Stanley S. Schor, 100, formerly of Philadelphia, retired professor of statistics at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University’s medical school, former executive director of clinical biostatistics and research data systems at Merck & Co., pioneer in the application of biostatistics, prolific clinical researcher, author, and veteran, died Monday, Dec. 26, of vascular dementia at his home in Highland Beach, Fla.
Candid and tireless in evaluating accepted medical practices and proposing better ways if possible, Dr. Schor focused his celebrated career on ensuring that conclusions drawn from clinical research were valid and that their real-world application was beneficial. Indeed, Dr. Schor’s examinations and evaluations of medical research and protocols, and his follow-up recommendations, significantly improved care regarding heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and other critical health conditions.
His reports elevated the role of statisticians in approving research, refined project policies, and updated everyday medical information for women, children, veterans, and the general public. Among other activities, he revamped questions on medical tests and research reviews, and introduced new methods to ensure safety, accurate product information, and the efficient distribution of effective drugs.
“Stanley challenged the status quo,” his family said in a tribute.
Dr. Schor was born in the Swampoodle neighborhood of North Philadelphia on March 3, 1922, and went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and doctorate at Penn. He taught statistics and research methodology at Penn from 1950 to 1964, was professor of biometrics and onetime department chair at Temple from 1966 to 1975, and worked at Merck from 1975 to 1991.
A teacher at heart, Dr. Schor was known for his encouragement, generosity, and humor in the classroom. He was director of Penn’s national periodic health examination research group and earned grants from the Public Health Service and other groups to support his initiatives there.
At Temple’s medical school, now the Lewis Katz School of Medicine, he donated money for stipends and tuition to promising graduate students and developed a thriving biometrics department that graduated more than 100 biostatisticians. “I will never forget Stan as a mentor, senior leader, and wonderful kind person,” a former student said in a tribute. “He was incredibly intelligent, and we all learned a great deal from him.”
He was director of biostatistics at the American Medical Association in Chicago in the 1960s, a clinical professor at Hahnemann Medical School, visiting professor at medical schools in Chicago and Israel, and guest faculty member at the Mayo Clinic and National Institutes of Health. He served as president of the Philadelphia chapter of the American Statistical Association, on national and international committees and advisory boards, and as a statistical consultant to government and private agencies.
A prolific writer, he wrote or cowrote more than 50 scientific papers and two books, including 1968′s Fundamentals of Biostatistics. He criticized misleading medical manuscripts and penned a sometimes-humorous column in the Journal of the American Medical Association called The Mystic Statistic.
He created new editing procedures for AMA publications and was statistics editor for the Journal of Trauma, now the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. “In reviewing a manuscript for possible publication, a reader tries to place himself in the position of the investigator at the start of the experiment,” he wrote in 1972.
Dr. Schor received career and lifetime achievement awards from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Statistical Association. He always credited his mentors at Penn, E. Douglass Burdick and William T. Fitts Jr., with his success, and Temple awards the Schor Prize in Biostatistics, and Merck sponsors the Stanley S. Schor fellowship in biostatistics at the University of North Carolina.
In a tribute, a friend said he “laughed a lot and seemed very grateful for all the good things in his life.”
Stanley Sidney Schor graduated from Simon Gratz High School, earned his bachelor’s degree from Penn in 1943, and spent the next three years in the Army during World War II. He married Irene Sternberg in 1949, and they had sons Jay and Mark, and daughters Robin and Randi, and lived in West Philadelphia, Mount Airy, and Lafayette Hill.
He and his wife relocated to Florida after he retired in 1991. His wife and son Jay died earlier.
Dr. Schor was an avid reader and liked Broadway musicals, operettas, and old movies. He followed Penn and Penn State football, took his son to Eagles and Phillies games, and played softball into his 80s.
“He was warm and affable, somebody to look up to,” his son said. “To me, he was always bigger than life.”
In addition to his children, Dr. Schor is survived by two granddaughters and other relatives. A brother died earlier.
Services were Dec. 29