Faculty Profile: Andrea Troxel, ScD, collaborates on research in various types of cancerJUNE 30, 2008
Andrea Beth Troxel was born in Cambridge, MA and was raised in nearby Belmont, MA. She enjoyed mathematics throughout her secondary education, and received a brief introduction to probability and statistics during an elective in her senior year of high school. Andrea stayed in New England for her undergraduate career, majoring in applied mathematics at Yale University. Although she was interested in science and had toyed with the idea of pre-med, she pursued an earlier interest and was one of only 10 or 11 students in this particular major at Yale during the early 1990s. After having taken a data analysis class as well as a course in applied statistics, a senior-year course in public health helped bridge Andrea's various academic inclinations and introduced her to biostatistics. After graduating with a BS in 1991, she went on to graduate work in that field, completing her ScD at the Harvard School of Public Health in 1995.
Dr. Troxel moved across the US in 1995 to take a postdoctoral fellowship and statistical research associate position with the Southwest Oncology Group Statistical Center, located at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. In 1997, she returned to the East Coast as Assistant Professor of Clinical Public Health in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and Division of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at Columbia University. She focused on observational studies and clinical trials, primarily in oncology; teaching; and working with investigators on projects related to quality of life in cancer and other diseases. In 2000, she became an Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at the newly renamed Mailman School of Public Health. Cancer research continued to be one of her main subjects of interest. Although she enjoyed living and working in New York, Dr. Troxel and her husband found the challenges of raising a family in the city to be significant, and began considering relocation.
In 2003, Dr. Troxel applied for a position at Penn that she had considered when she first finished her postdoctoral studies. She was named Assistant Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Senior Scholar, CCEB, in 2003 and became an Associate Professor in the CCEB in 2006.
Dr. Troxel seeks in her work to find projects that require statistical innovation. In the process, she hopes to refine methods of data analysis to more directly address certain questions and develop a more efficient and applicable approach, rendering methods more practical and practicable for the investigators developing trials and leading studies, with the hope that such methods might be more widely applied. The greater the connection between the statistical and medical aspects of her work, the happier Dr. Troxel finds herself. Fortunately, she often sees such connections in her work.
Since completing her doctoral degree, cancer has been an important focus in Dr. Troxel's work. Her methodologic interests focus on two broad areas: non-ignorable missing data problems and statistical issues in the analysis of quality-of-life (QOL) data, particularly in oncology. In fact, she has performed applications in both methodologic areas in longitudinal QOL measurements collected on breast, colon, and prostate cancer patients in cooperative group trials. Dr. Troxel notes that non-ignorable missing data occur when data are missing in a non-random or informative way. For instance, sicker patients tend not to fill out QOL questionnaires; this can cause bias in estimates of treatment effects or other quantities of interest. Dr. Troxel has performed parametric modeling of such data, as well as work to characterize the sensitivity of standard modeling approaches to potentially non-ignorable missing data. Recently, she has become interested in combining QOL assessments and other clinical data in joint modeling. In other words, clinical events (such as survival time) and QOL events (such as a diagnosis of depression) are considered jointly in a single model. This work involves extensions of frailty models, which are multivariate survival models.
Dr. Troxel's collaborative work focuses on oncology and survivorship. She is the lead cancer center statistician for breast and gynecologic malignancies, and directs the scientific review of all oncology protocols; she has been involved with both epidemiologic projects and clinical studies of thyroid and lung cancer. Dr. Troxel also collaborates on several projects in behavioral medicine, including studies of cultural and religious influences that affect the propensity to pursue screening in a multi-ethnic cohort; barriers to and facilitators of participation in cancer studies among African-Americans; exercise interventions among breast cancer survivors; and financial incentives for behavior change in smoking cessation, weight loss, and medication compliance. Recently, she has also developed a focus on dermatologic research in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, melanoma, psoriasis (e.g., the increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or lymphoma associated with psoriasis), and rare skin diseases related to lupus.
Dr. Troxel has been the primary author of papers published in Applied Statistics, Biometrics, Biometrika, Breast, Journal of Biopharmaceutical Statistics, Statistica Sinica, Statistics in Medicine, and Statistical Methods in Medical Research, as well as a contributing author in various other peer-reviewed journals. In addition, she is an associate editor for the journal Statistics in Medicine, and a reviewer for numerous journals, including Applied Statistics, Biometrical Journal, Biometrics, Communication in Statistics, Controlled Clinical Trials, Journal of the American Medical Women's Association, Journal of the American Statistical Association, Journal of Biopharmaceutical Statistics, Journal of Clinical Investigation, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, and Quality of Life Research.
Dr. Troxel lives in Bala Cynwyd with her husband, a medieval historian at Columbia, and their son and daughter. Apart from work, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, gardening and exercising. Dr. Troxel loves this region, but she and her family are greatly anticipating her sabbatical, beginning in September, when they will embark on a 10-month stay in France.