Samuel W. Greenhouse
by John M. Lachin and Joel Greenhouse
Samuel W. Greenhouse was born on January 13, 1918 in the
Bronx, New York. Sam, as he was known to all, was one of the founding
statisticians at the National Institutes of Health, who helped pioneer
the use of statistical methods in epidemiological research, and was influential
in the early development of the theory and practice of clinical trials.
He was also a distinguished Professor of Statistics at the George Washington
Sam received his B.S. in Mathematics from the City College
of New York in 1938 and thereafter moved to Washington, DC to begin his
career in the Bureau of Census with Edward Deming (1940-42). He served
in the Army during World War II and afterwards worked with the United
Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (1945-48). In 1948 he was recruited
by Harold Dorn, along with Jerome Cornfield, Jacob Lieberman, Nathan Mantel
and Marvin Schneiderman, to create the first biometry group at the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) in the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The
May 1997 issue of Statistical Science presents a description of the activities
of this group including interviews with several of the early NIH statisticians,
and Sam's own reminiscences and reflections on the development of statistics
at the NIH. In 1954, Sam left the NCI to become Chief of the Theoretical
Statistics and Mathematics Section in the National Institute of Mental
Health. In 1966, he was appointed Chief of the Epidemiology and Biometry
Branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development,
where he rose to the position of Associate Director for Epidemiology and
Biometry (1970-74) and Acting Associate Director of the Office of Program
Planning and Evaluation (1969-74). He was the first statistician to hold
such a high administrative position at the NIH.
While working full time at the NIH, Sam taught part-time
and pursued his own graduate degrees under the direction of Solomon Kullback
in the Department of Statistics at George Washington University (GWU).
When Sam retired from government service in 1974, he began a full time
academic career at GWU where he served as Chair of the Department of Statistics
from 1976-69 and again in 1985-86. In 1988, he retired from the University
faculty and was named Professor Emeritus. From 1988 until his death he
served as the Associate Director for Research Development of the GWU Biostatistics
Sam articulated many times that the primary mission of
the statisticians at the NIH was to collaborate and provide statistical
support for the NIH scientists. Yet, it was always understood that these
collaborations would lead to opportunities for statistical research in
methodology and theory. It was not unusual to find Sam and the other early
NIH statisticians co-authoring papers in subject matter journals and publishing
corresponding theory and methods papers in statistics journals. This pattern
was evident in his early papers on the evaluation of diagnostic tests.
Although this work with Mantel (Biometrics, 1950) and Dunn (Public Health
Reports) was rooted in the need to implement noninvasive methods for cancer
screening, it also addressed methodological issues, such as deriving the
estimated variance of sensitivity and specificity for the case when the
diagnostic cut-point for a quantitative test was also estimated from the
data. While at the NIMH, he helped design and analyze the first multi-disciplinary
study of normal aging, and co-edited the resulting book Human Aging (1963).
Recognizing the need for methods to analyze highly correlated psychological
data from studies such as this one, led directly to new methodological
work with Geisser (Psychometrika, 1959; Annals of Mathematical Statistics,
1958). They derived an estimate of the degree of departure from the assumption
of compound symmetry in the test of within-subjects effects in ANOVA,
and an adjustment to the degrees of freedom of the F-ratio when that assumption
is violated. The Greenhouse-Geisser correction is now provided in virtually
all computer packages for repeated measures analysis. Significantly, this
work has been recognized as a Science and Social Science Citation Classic
Sam was also influential in the early development of the
theory and practice of clinical trials and shared an interest with Cornfield
in methods for the sequential analysis of emerging data in clinical trials.
While at the NICHD, his collaborations focused more on observational data,
e.g., assessing the safety of oral contraceptive use, and his interests
returned to the development of methods for epidemiologic studies. His
papers with Seigel ( Journal of Chronic Disease, 1973; American Journal
of Epidemiology, 1973), for example, showed that logistic regression could
be applied to matched and unmatched case-control studies to obtain an
adjusted estimate of the prospective odds ratio associated with a factor.
At GWU in the late 1980's, Sam and Joe Gastwirth recognized similarities
between a class of problems arising in legal settings and in epidemiologic
studies. A collaboration began that was deeply grounded in the practical
experiences of their respective fields of application (see, e.g., JASA,
1987; Statistics in Medicine, 1995).
Sam was passionate about statistics. He relished the opportunity
to teach and engage colleagues and young statisticians in statistical
discourse. Whether giving a seminar, making a site visit, or on sabbatical,
Sam was always a popular and stimulating visitor. However, if one asked
Sam about the truly important work he was doing, he would inevitably talk
about his scientific collaborations. For it was through the practice of
statistics, he believed, that statisticians made their biggest impact
on science, and it was through scientific collaborations that the important
statistical problems were identified. He felt that every biostatistician
should spend time in the trenches, such as in a laboratory or a clinical
trial data center, to obtain practical experience. He practiced what he
preached. While at the Biostatistics Center he continued to collaborate
extensively with investigators in the Division of Cardiology at the GWU
School of Medicine; served as a coinvestigator of the Coordinating Center
for the study of the Medical Treatment of Prostatic Symptoms; and served
as a member of the data monitoring committee for the POSCH.
Sam was a much sought after panel member and mentor. His
reviews and advice were always fair, insightful, and expertly crafted.
He worked tirelessly as an advisor and reviewer for a number of government
agencies, including, the U.S. Public Health Service's Accident Prevention
Study Section (1958-62), the Federal Aviation Agency Council of Research
Advisors, Office of Aviation Medicine (1959-65), and the Food and Drug
Administration's Biometric and Epidemiologic Methodology Committee (1967-72)
which he chaired from 1969-72. He served on the Institute of Medicine's
committee investigating the health of Vietnam veterans, and co-authored
a report for the White House on The Health Effects of Low-Frequency Electricity
and Magnetic Fields. Sam was a member of numerous committees at the NIH,
during and after his tenure there, including the Biostatistics Fellowship
Review Panel (1961-69), the Statistics and Mathematics Study Section (1963-70),
the NCI Epidemiology and Biometry Contract Review Committee (1967-73),
the Computer Sciences and Biomathematics Study Section (1974-78), and
the NHLBI Clinical Trials Review Committee (1983-86). In the 1980's and
90's, he frequently served as a member of the ad hoc NIH study section
that reviewed statistical methods grant applications.
Sam was a much loved presence in the profession. He attended
the annual meetings of ENAR, the Society of Clinical Trials, the JSM and
the AAAS without fail, and the ISI as often as he could. He was amazingly
current and had strong opinions on all matters. He was not shy about asking
questions of speakers, especially when he didn't understand a point (or
felt that they didn't), and it would not be unusual for the discussion
to continue in the hall or even later via email until he felt the issues
were resolved. This was true whether the topic was statistics, literature,
music, politics, religion or sports. His intellectual curiosity was voracious.
In his 1997 Statistical Science article on his reminiscences of the NIH
he wrote about how the group (Cornfield, Halperin, Mantel, he, and others)
would often argue quite publicly over lunch about matters statistical
and otherwise. Although one of Sam's most endearing features was his personal
warmth and smile, he could also be quite the provocateur. We fondly remember
times in the late 1970's and early 80's, when Sam would visit Max Halperin
or Nathan Mantel at the Biostatistics Center. Sam loved nothing more than
a friendly spirited argument and Max and Nathan were always eager to comply.
Sam was capable of arguing either side of an issue and often would, especially
if it would get a rise out of Max or Nathan.
It is a tribute to his energy and enthusiasm for statistics
that Sam received many honors for his intellectual and professional contributions.
The American Statistical Association in 1993 recognized him with their
prestigious Founders Award, and in 1997 videotaped a discussion with Sam
as part of the ASA series of conversations with distinguished statisticians.
Sam was a Fellow of the American Statistical Association, the Institute
of Mathematical Statistics, the American Association for the Advancement
of Science, and the Royal Statistical Society, and an elected member of
the International Statistical Institute. He was also a Fellow of the American
College of Epidemiology and of the Council of Epidemiology of the American
Heart Association. In 1969 he received the Superior Service Honor Award
from the NIH and in 1976 was named a Johns Hopkins University Centennial
Scholar. In December, 1999, Sam was recognized by the Harvard Institute
of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Genetics for his lifetime contributions
to psychiatric epidemiology and biostatistics. Unfortunately, because
of his illness, he was unable to travel to deliver the lecture that he
had prepared in honor of this occasion.
Sam died of cancer on September 29, 2000 at the age of 82.