Mari Palta

Credentials: PhD

Position title: Professor Emerita of Population Health Sciences and Biostatistics & Medical Informatics, former Director of Graduate Programs and Vice-Chair of Population Health Sciences


Photo of Mari Palta

Mari Palta received her PhD in Biostatistics in 1977 followed by postdoctoral training in Epidemiology, both from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She also holds a Master’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology, and an undergraduate degree in Mathematics, Mathematical Physics, and English from the University of Lund, Sweden. She was a faculty member in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Iowa 1979-1982, and a Scientist in the Biostatistics Center at the University of Wisconsin, 1982-1987. She has been a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison since 1987 and holds joint appointments in the Departments of Population Health Sciences, and Biostatistics and Medical Informatics.

Professor Palta directs and collaborates in several different research projects, and has an over-riding interest in evaluating and developing methodology. Her statistical methods research has addressed longitudinal models with measurement error, confounding and missing data, and the analysis of preference scored health outcomes. She has been the Principal Investigator of two epidemiologic cohort studies of very low birth weight and diabetes which continue to generate spin-off studies and new analyses. Her clinical subject matter interests range from maternal and child health to respiratory conditions, diabetes and sleep.

Newborn Lung Project: This research followed a cohort of all Wisconsin very low birth weight children born during 2003 and 2004. The project collected a large amount of baseline data from 17 NICUs, and at age 2 interviews with both very low birth weight children and normal birth weight controls. Data include health problems, and also assessments of quality of life, daily function and behaviors. Respiratory testing was conducted at age 4.

Wisconsin Diabetes Registry Study: The project is following a cohort with type 1 diabetes diagnosed 1987-1992. This regional incident cohort has extensive data on diabetes care and characteristics from diagnosis. Clinical examinations for eye and kidney complications were completed at 20 years duration. The project also has a longitudinal biological sample bank.

National Health Measurement Study: Dr. Palta directed the Biostatistics Core to evaluate and compare measures of health related quality of life in population based and patient samples. She is developing and evaluating analytic methods for novel ways to understand and compare the different measures.

Analyses of Electronic Health Records: Dr Palta is involved with several projects that utilize electronic health records to evaluate the care and outcomes of patients with diabetes, hypertension and inflammatory bowel disease.

Family-Centered Tailoring of Pediatric Diabetes Self-Management Resources: Dr. Palta is a collaborator on a clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of tailoring diabetes education to specific barriers to self-care among children with type 1 diabetes and their families.

Epidemiology of Sleep: Dr.Palta has been a long-standing collaborator and the senior biostatistician on the primary and ancillary studies arising from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort.


Courses Taught

  • PHS 651: Advanced Regression Methods in Population Health (1999 – present)
  • PHS 552: Regression Methods in Population Health I (1988– 1999, 2001, 2011)



  • Affiliate Faculty appointment in the Department of Statistics
  • American Statistical Association (member)
  • Biometric Society (member)
  • American Statistical Association, Committee on Women in Statistics (Member 2005-2010, Chair 2008-2010)
  • Caucus for Women in Statistics (President, 2002)
  • American Diabetes Association (member)
  • FDA panel on Ophthalmic Medical Devices (Consultant, 2004-present)
  • Health of the Population (HOP) Integrated Review Group, Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB) study section, Center for Scientific Review, NIH. (member 2003-2007)
  • Graduate Faculty Executive Committee, University of Wisconsin (2007-2011)


Recent Honors/Awards

  • Fellow of the American Statistical Association (2004-present)


Publications see: Palta PubMed