Front of the Egyptian Building illuminated at night


The roots of the Department of Biostatistics predate the establishment of Virginia Commonwealth University.

1838: The Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College opens.

1854: The Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College receives an independent charter from the Virginia General Assembly and becomes the Medical College of Virginia.

1958: The Division of Biometry, headed by Malcolm Turner, Ph.D., is created within the MCV Department of Biophysics and Biometry. (Biometry is defined as the study and application of mathematical and statistical research to biological subjects.)

1963: Turner departs, and the Division of Biometry splits off to become an independent Department of Biometry.

1965: S. James Kilpatrick Jr., Ph.D. is recruited to head the Department of Biometry and tasked with providing statistical and computing assistance to researchers throughout MCV. The Scientific Computation Laboratory is absorbed into the Department. In addition to the chair, there is one master’s-level faculty member and two computer assistants who run the primitive RPC 4000 Royal McBee computer, which was the only computer devoted to research on the MCV Campus at the time.

1967: Following the recruitment of Roger Flora, Ph.D. and Walter Hansbrough Carter Jr., Ph.D., a graduate training program in biometry launches, offering M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.

1969: The first students, Dave Weiss and Mike Hogye, enroll in the new graduate training program. In order to activate the mathematical component of the Department, Charles Church, Ph.D., is recruited.

1972: Faculty petition the administration to change the name of the Department from biometry to biostatistics, to better reflect the Department’s activities and interests. The administration agreed, and the newly named Department of Biostatistics is located in the first basement of Sanger Hall, named in honor of William T. Sanger, M.D., the third president of the college and founding trustee of the medical college.

1983: Kilpatrick steps down as chair, and Sung Choi, Ph.D., serves as interim chair.

1984: Carter is chosen to chair the Department. Under his leadership, the Department expands to include 10 full-time faculty members and 15 doctoral candidates with an expansion of its collaborative research activities across the entire university.

2005: Carter retires, and R.K. Elswick, Ph.D., steps in to shepherd the Department as interim chair.

2006: The Department relocates from the basement of Sanger Hall to the Theater Row Building, providing additional space for growth.

2007: Shumei Sun, Ph.D. is recruited to chair the Department. Under her leadership, the Department doubles in size and now boasts approximately 20 full-time faculty. Staff additions begin to support an enhanced focus on research, including an analyst to support the computing cluster system (a far cry from the department's original RPC 4000 Royal McBee computer).

2011: The Department relocates to our current home at One Capitol Square, adjacent to the historic Virginia State Capitol complex and within walking distance of the MCV Campus.

2023: The Department, along with the Department of Health Behavior and Policy and the Department of Epidemiology, join the new School of Population Health.

2024: Dr. Robert Perera, Ph.D. accepts the Interim Chair position of the department due to Dr. Shumei Sun announcing her plan for retirement. 

2024: Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Population Health becomes the School of Public Health.