April 2005, Vol. 6 No. 5
Presenting AUB to the Outside World on
Film and Video
Choral Concert Workshop and Guitar
Festival Held at the Assembly Hall
Civilization Sequence Program Screens Falstaff
Oleanna Play Reading: Power Dynamics and
Book Review: In the Path of Hizbullah by Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh
A Tree Grows in Hanine
Hani Dimassi, an AUB graduate, always knew he wanted to return to Lebanon after getting his PhD; all he needed was a job. Fortunately, he found the perfect opportunity in the School of Nursing of his alma mater, which may seem strange, because Professor Dimassi is neither a nurse nor a medical doctor; he is a biostatistician.
Since joining AUB last fall, Dimassi has been teaching Introduction to Biostatistics at the school, as well as research courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, including two undergraduate biostatistics courses in collaboration with the Faculty of Health Sciences. He is currently involved in research related to palliative care as well, and is also studying PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) in southern Lebanon. Discussing his field, Dimassi says, “The fun thing about biostatistics is that you can work with people in all sorts of areas,” and each new project brings “new questions and new challenges.”
Professor Dimassi, who has spent most of his life in Lebanon, earned his BS in environmental health and later his MS in public health at AUB. After working for some time, Dimassi realized that what he really loved was biostatistics, so he went to the United States, where he spent five and a half years getting his PhD in biostatistics at the University of Oklahoma. During that period of study, to support his wife and infant daughter, he also worked in a lab at the Health Sciences Center there, and says he was lucky to be able to get experience actually doing biostatistics as
a complement to the theory he was learning. He was involved in several research projects at the center, among them one dealing with the mental aspects of exposure to tragic events, which included the bombing of the Oklahoma Federal Building in 1995 and the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack.
As a biostatistician, Dimassi prefers to become involved in the planning stage of a study. That way, he explains, he can help devise the survey questionnaire needed so that the resulting data will be most useful, and he can also assist the investigators in arriving at a truly random sample and determining how big that sample should be. After the data is collected, Dimassi works with the information—entering
it into a database, “cleaning” it, “mining” (i.e. exploring) it, and finally analyzing the data with the researcher to see whether the results support the original hypothesis or might suggest something different and unexpected.
Dimassi is currently a visiting assistant professor at the School of Nursing and says he is looking forward to getting a new office once the school moves to its new location next to the AUB Medical Center. He and his wife live off campus in the Hamra area, where they are kept busy with their daughter Sarah, who is now almost three years old.