University of Washington School of Public Health

Graduate Student Profile


Cesar Torres

PhD student, Biostatistics
Hometown: Chula Vista, CA

What did you do before you came to grad school?

I was a substitute teacher for a year and a half in the Chula Vista elementary school district. While it was fun, it was a lot of work. People said I should use my math for other things.

Why did you choose the UW?

The faculty members in the UW Department of Biostatistics really care about improving public health. The department is highly ranked, so I knew I would be learning from some of the best in the field. Also, Seattle is a vibrant city with a lot to offer and with weather that isn’t too far off from that of Southern California.

What motivates you about public health?

Growing up, my parents instilled in me a humanitarian attitude, with acts such as donating clothing and food to the less fortunate. This led to my initial career choice of teaching, which I eventually found wasn’t the right fit for me. I’m glad that it didn’t work out, because I can have a greater impact on the general population as a biostatistician.

Why did you choose Biostatistics?

Academically, I have always done better in quantitative subjects, so the field seemed like the natural choice if I wanted to help people.

What kind of research are you doing?

My dissertation work is on adaptive clinical trials. Specifically, I’m investigating a particular set of scenarios where clinical trial designs can have characteristics that are different than what is expected. I’m looking into whether these designs can be modified to correct the characteristics.

Tell me about your internship at the FDA.

Missing data is a common occurrence in most large clinical trials. Failing to correctly account for the “missingness” in the statistical analysis can lead to flawed conclusions about the safety and efficacy of experimental treatments. My project at the FDA was to examine the strengths and weaknesses of a few proposed “tipping point” analysis methods for missing data in clinical trials.

What are your future goals?

I’d like to be in a position where the work I’m doing is improving the lives of people everywhere. One feasible option is to be a part of the drug regulatory process in the U.S.

What do you like most about Seattle?

Seattle has a wide variety of food and there are always new restaurants to try. If I ever find myself missing SoCal-style Mexican food, I can make my way to Memo’s Restaurant near campus for carne asada fries. It reminds me of San Diego.

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