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Sir David Cox has been named the inaugural recipient of the International Prize in Statistics, considered the highest honour in its field for major achievements using statistics to advance science, technology and human welfare.

The International Prize in Statistics Foundation is recognizing him specifically for his 1972 paper in which he developed the proportional hazards model that today bears his name. The Cox Model is widely used in the analysis of survival data and enables researchers to more easily identify the risks of specific factors for mortality or other survival outcomes among groups of patients with disparate characteristics.

Successful application of the Cox Model has led to life-changing breakthroughs with far-reaching societal effects, some of which include the following:

  • Demonstrating that a major reduction in smoking-related cardiac deaths could be seen within just one year of smoking cessation, not 10 or more years as previously thought
  • Showing the mortality effects of particulate air pollution, a finding that has changed both industrial practices and air quality regulations worldwide
  • Identifying risk factors of coronary artery disease and analyzing treatments for lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, obesity, sleep apnea and septic shock.

His mark on research is so great that his 1972 paper is one of the three most-cited papers in statistics and ranked 16th in Nature’s list of the top 100 most-cited papers of all time for all fields.

Story courtesy of the Department of Statistics