Dr. Tractenberg is a tenured professor in the Department of Neurology, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics & Biomathematics and Rehabilitation Medicine. She is also a Research Fellow at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC. She is a research methodologist specializing in designs and analyses with "difficult to measure" outcomes in biomedical and educational studies, with PhDs in psychology/cognitive sciences (1997) and measurement, statistics, and evaluation (2009); she also earned a doctoral level certificate in gerontology (2006). She is a professional biostatistician (Accredited Professional Statistician designation from the American Statistical Association awarded in 2011 with over 20 years of experience designing and analyzing experimental research.
Her areas of interest include higher education curriculum development and evaluation; statistical methodology and statistical literacy for effective stewardship of the discipline in PhD students/holders; effective instruction and mentoring in research ethics; neuropsychological assessment; the development and benchmarking of outcomes; experimental design; and longitudinal (latent variable) analytic methods. She was elected a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2016 and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2017. She is the Chair (2017-2019) of the American Statistical Association Committee on Professional Ethics, serving as Vice-Chair 2014-2016. Internationally she is involved in educational and training initiatives that feature the curriculum development, evaluation, and revision tool she created, the Mastery Rubric. In addition to supporting effective curricula (i.e., where intended and actual learning goals are aligned), this construct provides the first way to bring psychometrically-defined validity to curriculum decisions, and has supported the first ever evidence that training in research ethics can be sustainable.
Prior to coming to Georgetown in 2002, Dr. Tractenberg spent five years at the University of California at San Diego as a biostatistician and scientist within a national consortium of Alzheimer's disease research centers. Since arriving at GU in 2002, she has collaborated on research projects on both the Main and Medical center campuses, as well as nationally and internationally. Dr. Tractenberg was the biostatistical consultant for the General Clinical Research Center 2003-2006 and joined the Neurology Department (primary appointment) in 2006.
Anyone can be blinded by the shiny object, and when data gathering and number crunching start to bear fruit, it’s hard not to jump to conclusions.
In her closing keynote, Rochelle Tractenberg, associate professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center, waves a flag of caution to avoid a credibility crisis. Tractenberg will discuss how, when it comes to data analysis, no matter the field or to what end data is being applied, the route must be open, transparent, and repeatable to be considered credible.
In healthcare, trust and transparency will drive clinical adoption of machine learning and other advanced analytic techniques. And with patient well-being on the line, there’s no place for, among other things, cherry picking results or failing to transparently report the number of analyses that were done.
"The data analyst, whether a professional statistician or just the group member who is most skilled with the analysis software, has an obligation to treat and interpret the data ethically," Tractenberg says. "In a post-truth world, this may be the best way to promote scientific integrity."