IMS Fellow Sir David Cox has been named the inaugural recipient of the International Prize in Statistics. The Prize, considered the highest honor in statistics, will be bestowed every other year to an individual or team for major achievements using statistics to advance science, technology and human welfare.

Sir David Cox

Sir David Cox

Cox is a giant in the field of statistics, but 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. From disease risk assessment and treatment evaluation to product liability, school dropout, re-incarceration and AIDS surveillance systems, the Cox Model has been applied widely in science and engineering.

“Professor Cox changed how we analyze and understand the effect of natural or human-induced risk factors on survival outcomes, paving the way for powerful scientific inquiry and discoveries that have impacted human health worldwide,” said Susan Ellenberg, chair of the International Prize in Statistics Foundation. “Use of the Cox Model in the physical, medical, life, earth, social and other sciences, as well as engineering fields, has yielded more robust and detailed information that has helped researchers and policymakers address some of society’s most pressing challenges.”

Successful application of the Cox Model has led to breakthroughs with far-reaching societal effects, including the areas of smoking cessation, particulate air pollution mortality, risk factors of coronary artery disease and analyzing treatments for lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, obesity, sleep apnea and septic shock.

In 2010, Cox received the Copley Medal, the Royal Society’s highest award. Knighted in 1985, Cox is a Fellow of the Royal Society, an honorary fellow of the British Academy and a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. He has served as president of the Bernoulli Society, Royal Statistical Society and International Statistical Institute.

Cox’s 50-year career included technical and research positions in the private and nonprofit sectors, as well as numerous academic appointments as professor or department chair at Birkbeck College, Imperial College London, Nuffield College and Oxford University. He earned his PhD from the University of Leeds in 1949. Though he retired in 1994, Cox remains active in the profession in Oxford, UK.

Together with a monetary award of $75,000, the International Prize in Statistics will be presented to Sir David Cox at the World Statistics Congress in Marrakech, Morocco, next July.