William Hua stands in front of the Johns Hopkins University sign


A paper outlining a new model that promises to improve patient outcomes by optimizing both medication dosage amounts and the timing of those dosages has been selected to receive an International Biometric Society Eastern North American Region’s (ENAR) Distinguished Student Paper Award.

William Hua, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, will present his paper, “Personalized Dynamic Treatment Regimes in Continuous Time: A Bayesian Joint Model for Optimizing Clinical Decisions with Timing,” at ENAR’s virtual spring 2021 meeting, set for March 14 through 17.

“In the field of dynamic treatment regimes, most methods focus on estimating optimal treatment, and don’t pay as much attention to when that treatment should occur. Our model incorporates both decision-making aspects into a Bayesian framework that allows us to improve expected patient survival outcomes by optimizing both treatment dosage amounts and the timing of these dosage changes,” explains Hua.

Hua’s research focuses primarily on personalized medicine, because he is fascinated by the promise statistics hold in making real-world impact.

“Medicine is a classic and impactful application area,” he says.

A 2015 graduate of California State University, Los Angeles, Hua chose to pursue his doctorate at Johns Hopkins not only because of its traditional and established strength in medicine, but also because of the opportunities JHU affords to apply statistics and mathematical models to a wide variety of fields—including medicine.

“I was initially unsure what type of career I wanted to pursue after graduate school, and I felt that JHU would provide the ideal situation for me to explore different areas and find what I enjoy most,” said Hua. “The AMS department and my advisor Yanxun Xu have been supportive of me exploring my career interests.”

For instance, he served as a quantitative research intern at T. Rowe Price for more than a year, working there full-time over a summer and part-time during the academic year. And after interning during the summer of 2019 at IMC trading, Hua will join that company full-time in early 2021 as a quantitative researcher.

“Overall, I feel that our department and my advisor have set me up well for success, both during my PhD as an academic and post-PhD in industry,” he says.