MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2013

Susan Murphy

Statistician

H. E. Robbins Professor of Statistics, Department of Statistics

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI

Age: 55

Published September 25, 2013

Susan Murphy is a statistician developing new methodologies to evaluate courses of treatment for individuals coping with chronic or relapsing disorders such as depression or substance abuse. In contrast to the treatment of acute illness, where clinicians make a single decision about treatment, doctors treating chronic ailments make a sequence of decisions over time about the best therapeutic approach based on the current state of a patient, the stage of the disease, and the individual’s response to prior treatments.

Murphy has developed a formal model of this decision-making process and an innovative design for clinical trials that allow researchers to test the efficacy of adaptive interventions. While the standard clinical trial paradigm simply tests and compares “one shot” treatments in a defined population, Murphy’s Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial (SMART) is a means for learning how best to dynamically adapt treatment to each individual’s response over time. Using SMART, clinicians assess and modify patients’ treatments during the trial, an approach with potential applications in the treatment of a range of chronic diseases—such as ADHD, alcoholism, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS, and cardiovascular disease—that involve therapies that are regularly reconsidered and replaced as the disease progresses.

As Murphy continues to refine adaptive interventions, she is working to increase opportunities for implementation in clinical settings through collaborations with medical researchers, clinicians, and computer scientists focused on sequential decision making. By translating statistical theory into powerful tools for evaluating and tailoring complex medical therapies, Murphy is poised to have a significant impact on the field of personalized medicine, an area of great activity in biomedical research today.

Susan Murphy received a B.S. (1980) from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. (1989) from the University of North Carolina. She was affiliated with Pennsylvania State University (1989–1997) prior to her appointment to the faculty of the University of Michigan, where she is currently the H. E. Robbins Professor of Statistics, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry, and a research professor in the Institute for Social Research. She is also a principal investigator at the Methodology Center of Pennsylvania State University.

Photos

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For More Information

Website: dept.stat.lsa.umich.edu/~samurphy

About the Fellows Program

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Learn More

Tarell McCraney, Playwright

Class of 2013

24 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All:  Meet the 2013 MacArthur Fellows thumbnail

24 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All: Meet the 2013 MacArthur Fellows

“This year’s class of MacArthur Fellows is an extraordinary group of individuals who collectively reflect the breadth and depth of American creativity.” -- Cecilia Conrad, Vice President, MacArthur Fellows program Read More