Professor Ray Boston

Professor of Applied Biomathematics, School of Veterinary Medicine; Professor of Biostatics, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

Ray attended Camberwell High School during the years 1956–1960. With no idea what he wanted to do when he left school, he found attending CHS a formative experience. He feels fortunate to have had loyal and clever friends and the best teachers imaginable; it was also a privilege for him to be in Camberwell’s great rowing squad in the years when the only thing that interfered with the size of their winning streaks was the number of boats we could get access to.

After leaving Camberwell in 1960, Ray studied Science at Melbourne University and left in 1970 with a Doctorate in Theoretical Physics and a Masters in Physiology. From 1970 to 1973, he studied at ANU in the Statistics Department of the Research School of Mathematics and Statistics investigating the cause of the failure of Mirage Aircraft to handle extreme down drafts; during this time he worked under two great Australian statisticians, PAP Moran and Ted Hannan.

Ray was appointed as a lecturer in Statistics in the School of Agriculture of La Trobe University in 1973, where he stayed until 1985. While there, in conjunction with colleague David Leaver, Ray studied reasons for abnormal metabolism and mineral malabsorption in a host of animals (including sheep, rats and mice). This work led to a series of articles, research grants and opportunities for further study abroad. While at La Trobe Ray also developed and applied new methods for detection of aberrant glucose metabolism and to efficiently quantify insulin resistance. The application of his work was considerably broadened to embrace drug action, tumour development and anti-cancer drug mechanisms.

In 1976, Ray went to the US National Institutes of Health and was invited to take part in the development of new Computing and Statistical approaches being developed there for the investigation of metabolic problems.

Ray in his Form 4C, 1958, class photo

Ray was invited in 1985 to take up the Foundation Chair of Computer Studies at Murdoch University. While there he worked to develop his metabolic investigation initiative (metabolic modelling), and the software he had developed for that purpose became more and more popular throughout the world. In addition, he lectured and continued his research.

The University of Pennsylvania made increasingly attractive offers and in September 1991 Ray left Murdoch to take up a Professorship in Applied Biomathematics with the School of Veterinary Medicine at Penn, where he remains to this day. Ray continues to develop his metabolic modelling software (indeed the entire NIH WinSAAM project, for 45 years located at the US National Institutes of Health and now managed by him) and has also entered into an arrangement with Dr Richard Bergman at the University of Southern California to develop computer-based mathematical techniques to cater for the needs of hospitals, clinics, municipalities and nations to chart and understand the progression of Type 2 diabetes through the world (a disease likely to affect 3 to 4 hundred million people in our life time).

Since arriving at Penn I have been appointed to positions in Medicine, where I am Professor of Biostatistics, and to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences where I teach Biological Modeling, as well as a teaching appointment in the Medical School where I offer instruction in Applied Biostatistics”. He is currently involved in projects ranging from causes of obesity amongst African-American women, oestrogen metabolism changes in association with breast tumors, and failure of adherence to prescribed medications amongst different ethnic groups, to glucose metabolism and insulin resistance in thoroughbred horses and the propagation of diseases in aquaculture fish tanks.

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