Faculty Profile: Warren Bilker, PhD, collaborates on research in diverse fieldsDECEMBER 22, 2008
Warren Bilker was born and raised in the Melrose Park Gardens section of Philadelphia. He stayed in Philadelphia after attending Northeast High School and earned both his BS and MS degrees at Temple University in 1981 and 1984, respectively. Although Warren admits he was not really a huge fan of math in high school, he had a change of heart and changed his major from biology to mathematics during his sophomore year of college. After completing a few statistics courses, he chose to concentrate on applied mathematics and decided that he would pursue a master's degree in statistics. Upon completion of his studies at Temple University, Warren moved 100 miles south to attend the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health (now called the Bloomberg School of Public Health). In 1992 he graduated from Johns Hopkins with a PhD in biostatistics. Dr. Bilker remained at Johns Hopkins after accepting a position as both Instructor in the Health Policy & Management department and Hospital Biostatistician at Johns Hopkins Hospital and stayed there for less than a year before returning to Philadelphia.
Dr. Bilker came to the University of Pennsylvania in 1992, prior to the initiation of the CCEB and the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, so his first three years were spent as a Lecturer and then an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine. In 1995, he joined the CCEB and is the longest serving biostatistician in the department. In 2007, Dr. Bilker was promoted to Professor of Biostatistics in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and the Department of Psychiatry. He was involved in many facets of the development and implementation of the PhD and MS degrees in biostatistics. From 1993 to 2006 Dr. Bilker taught Introductory Biostatistics in the MSCE program. Currently, he teaches Statistical Computing to second- and third-year biostatistics doctoral students.
In early 2008 Dr. Bilker received the Dean's Award for Excellence in Basic Science Teaching. This award was established to recognize teaching excellence and commitment to medical education in the basic sciences. The recipients are selected on the advice of a committee composed of faculty and students.
Dr. Bilker's collaborative clinical research focuses on neuropsychiatry, brain imaging, schizophrenia, pharmacoepidemiology, and infectious diseases. His primary methodological research interests are in the areas of pharmacoepidemiology, survival analysis, psychiatric methods, and correlated data. He is the principal investigator of the biostatistics and data core of the Schizophrenia Center in the Department of Psychiatry, which focuses on the study of the relationship between brain imaging findings and the clinical course of schizophrenia. One particular study that Dr. Bilker found fascinating was a brain imaging study using functional MRI for lie detection, which was funded by the Department of Defense shortly after the terrorist attacks in the US on September 11, 2001.
Dr. Bilker serves as a biostatistician on numerous research grants at Penn, collaborating across departments from Dermatology to Infectious Disease to Psychiatry on a diverse range of projects including survival analysis, pharmacoepidemiology, patient safety, health information technology, and brain imaging. Outside of the university, Dr. Bilker has visited research teams in Japan, Germany, and Israel to collaborate on brain imaging projects. In Japan, he worked with a group on impaired neuroanatomical development in infants with congenital heart disease. He is a participating faculty member for the International Research Training Group (IRTG) in Schizophrenia and Autism, which is funded by the German Research Council. Through this PhD program, candidates collaborate with partner scientists at the University of Pennsylvania who are involved in joint projects, and jointly supervise students' dissertations. Dr. Bilker also collaborates with Dr. Henry Silver and his group in Israel on cognition in the elderly with schizophrenia.
Domestically, Dr. Bilker is a member of a number of Data Safety and Monitoring Boards that examine a wide range of research. At Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia he is involved in an Advancing Caregiver Training Project and at Columbia University in New York a Social Anxiety Treatment Study. He has also served on multiple monitoring boards for industry studies. In addition, Dr. Bilker is a member of the National Institute of Mental Health Standing Review Committee: Interventions Committee for Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders, Personality Disorders and Disorders of Late Life. Recently, he served on an FDA Advisory Panel for Dermatology and Ophthalmology.
While he's not at work, Dr. Bilker spends his time with his wife (who was a fellow biostatistics student at Hopkins) and his two daughters at their home in Abington, PA. His older daughter is currently a student at her dad's alma mater, Temple University, majoring in theater production. His younger daughter attends high school and is a musical theater performer both in her school and in the community. Dr. Bilker enjoys watching his daughters' theater performances, playing squash and softball, jogging, and riding roller coasters with his daughters.