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Pioneer of Big Data Biostatistics Paula H. Diehr, PhD, Named to ARCS Foundation Alumni Hall of Fame

Posted on Friday, February 9, 2024

Alum is recognized for pioneering work as a biostatistician and the development of statistical methods and approaches that thousands of medical researchers have adopted for interpreting large data sets.

LaGrange, Georgia (February 9, 2024) - At the January National Board Meeting, ARCS® Foundation Inc. announced biostatistician Paula H. Diehr, PhD, as the 2024 inductee into the prestigious ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame Inductees are ARCS Scholar Alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the advancement of science in innovation, discovery, economic impact, the development of future scientists, and the enhancement of the United States' scientific competitiveness. 

Dr. Diehr currently holds the position of Professor Emeritus in Biostatistics, joint with Health (now known as Health Systems and Population Health) at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

ARCS Foundation has recognized Dr. Diehr for her work as a pioneering biostatistician who developed statistical methods and approaches used by thousands of health services researchers.

Dr. Diehr used her mathematics and statistics training to design innovative methods and longitudinal analyses using large datasets to draw out meaningful information and conclusions about medical diagnoses, healthcare interventions, understanding mental health services, and large health insurance reimbursement systems.

Her work directly impacted methods for assessing healthy weight standards for older adults and diagnostic rules for maladies such as headaches and pneumonia. Globally, her analytical tools helped other researchers use large datasets to study healthcare interventions and their economic impact. Her Healthy Life Calculator was designed to help older adults plan for the future.

Dr. Diehr received her ARCS Scholar award in 1960 and 1961, which enabled her to attend Harvey Mudd College as one of its first two women students. She was the first woman to receive an ARCS Scholar Award. “The support from the ARCS foundation was the basis of my entire career,” she said. “Coming from a modest background, I could not have afforded my undergraduate education without this help. At a time when there were not many female scientists, the support from groups such as ARCS for a female scientist was particularly gratifying.”

“In this 65th anniversary year of ARCS Foundation, it is especially meaningful that Dr. Diehr, the first woman scholar to receive an ARCS Scholar Award from our Los Angeles Founding Chapter, is our honored Hall of Fame Inductee,” said ARCS National President, Beth Wainwright.  “As a pioneering biostatistician and leader in the field of health services research, we are thrilled to welcome her into the distinguished ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame.”

As a member of the ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame, Dr. Diehr joins the company of fifteen other outstanding ARCS alumni who are also recognized for their leadership in scientific innovation and discovery. This group represents the nearly 12,000 ARCS scholars who have received awards since 1958 and the diversity of talent that keeps the United States’ science, engineering, medical research, and technology competitive globally.


About ARCS® Foundation: ARCS Foundation, Inc. is a national nonprofit volunteer women’s organization that promotes US competitiveness by providing financial awards to academically outstanding US citizens studying to complete degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and health disciplines at 50 of the nation’s leading research universities. The organization has awarded over $136 million to more than 11,800 scholars since 1958. ARCS Foundation Scholars have produced thousands of research publications and patents, secured billions in grant funding, started science-related companies, and played a significant role in teaching and mentoring young people in the STEM pipeline. More information is available at

image of paula diehr