Amita Manatunga Named the Donna J. Brogan Professor in Biostatistics

February 21, 2020
Amita Manatunga

By Kelly Jordan

Amita Manatunga, PhD, has been named as the inaugural Donna J. Brogan Professor in Biostatistics. This endowed professorship recognizes Manatunga’s excellence in teaching and research—particularly as it relates to the field of biostatistics—and honors the legacy of Donna Jean Brogan, PhD, emerita professor.

"Being named as the Donna J. Brogan Professor is personally gratifying and deeply meaningful to me,” says Manatunga. “Donna is a mentor and a colleague who I have long admired and respected. She is a wonderful role model in light of her extensive contributions to the advancement of the careers of women, her scholarship, and her honesty and integrity. It is incredible to be a part of her legacy in this way.”

This is the first named professorship in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics other than the Rollins Professorship, which is designated for the chair of the department.  Aside from recognizing Brogan’s illustrious career, this named professorship also serves to commemorate the contributions women have made to biostatistics, a field where women have historically been underrepresented. Brogan is also hopeful it will also help to attract more exceptional people to the field (particularly women), like Manatunga.

“Amita is a good fit for the named professorship because of her excellence in all aspects of a model biostatistics career,” says Brogan, referencing Manatunga’s methodological research, collaborative research, teaching, service, and mentoring. “Her selection is a well-deserved acknowledgement of her past and ongoing contributions to the field.”

Manatunga has dedicated her more than 26-year career to advancing methods and applications of complex data structures to address critical public health problems including mental health, epidemiology, and nuclear medicine. She has published more than 125 peer-reviewed manuscripts, is the senior biostatistician for the Georgia Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Emory University, and the lead biostatistician for a phase-two clinical trial and another group randomized clinical trial. She has led a total of seven major R01 grants on statistical methodology as principal investigator or multiple principal investigator and has served as a co-investigator to many collaborative, federally-sponsored research grants.

A true collaborator, Manatunga has partnered with researchers across the university and helped establish a strong mental health methodology research group within the Department of Biostatistics that currently includes three full professors (all female). Manatunga has received numerous awards and honors over the years, including the 2018 Teaching Award from her department, election as a fellow of the American Statistical Association, and her selection as the Center for Women at Emory’s 2020 Award for Mentorship. Most recently, she was recognized as the 2020 Elizabeth L. Scott Award recipient by the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies.

About Donna Jean Brogan

Donna Jean Brogan, PhD, emerita professor at the Rollins School of Public Health, enjoyed a 33-year career in biostatistics at Emory University at both the School of Medicine (1971-1990) and the Rollins School of Public Health (1990-2004). She was the first female full professor at Rollins, the first female faculty member in Emory’s statistics/biometry department, the fourth female full professor at Emory’ s School of Medicine, and the first female chair of the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics. A founder of the Caucus for Women in Statistics, Brogan has received numerous accolades for teaching and research, and spent much of her  career advocating for the advancement of women in statistics. Though she retired from the university in 2004, she has been actively engaged with Emory ever since through her involvement with the Department of Biostatistics and her generous donations to the school. The annual Donna Jean Brogan Annual Lecture in Biostatistics brings globally renowned biostatisticians to campus. In her spare time, she is a challenge-level square dancer.