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Kung-Jong Lui Kung-Jong Lui

In Memoriam: Kung-Jong Lui

The statistics professor joined SDSU in 1990 and was an internationally influential biostatistician with a specialty in epidemiology and clinical trial.
By SDSU News Team

An internationally influential biostatistician with a specialty in epidemiology and clinical trial, professor Kung-Jong Lui taught statistics to thousands of San Diego State University students during his three decades at the university.

Lui, whose work on statistics involving AIDS contributed to some of the earliest research into the disease, died April 27 at his home after a brief battle with cancer. He was 66.
Lui joined SDSU in 1990 as an associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 1993. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 2001, and a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology in 2006. He also served as the Program Chair for Statistics in Epidemiology of the American Statistical Association. In addition, he was also an elected member of the Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Society.

"Kung-Jong was an incredibly dedicated scholar and teacher, but also very humble and kind,” said Michael O’Sullivan, professor and chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “His students remarked on his brilliance as a statistician, but the thing that really impressed them was the pleasure he got from teaching. He enjoyed working with and getting to know students and he loved to see them mature as statisticians.”
Lui was a dedicated researcher and a prolific scientist. He published three books and more than 200 peer reviewed professional articles in journals such as Science, Statistical Methods in Medical Research and the Journal of the American Medical Association. His research productivity was highly ranked worldwide in the Biometrical Journal, in Statistics in Medicine and in the International Journal of Biometrics.

Lui made numerous contributions to statistics in medical research. He proposed a statistical theory in modeling the AIDS incubation period, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He was also among the first statisticians to model the attack rate and incubation period of AIDS in homosexual men (published in Science), as well as helped medical scientists demonstrate AIDS could be transmitted through blood transfusion (published in New England Journal of Medicine).

Lui earned his bachelor’s degree from Fu Jen University in Taipei, and his master’s degree in mathematics and biostatistics and his doctorate in biostatistics from the University of California Los Angeles.  

Lui’s dedication and passion for his students, colleagues and the university will be greatly missed.

“Kung-Jong made a huge impact on students,” said Joey Lin, associate chair of Statistics, who worked closely with Lui for 20 years. “Students thought he was not only brilliant but was also enthusiastic about teaching. Some concepts he taught greatly helped students during their PhD work. Students will miss him, as he was a genuinely caring and brilliant scholar.”

Lui is survived by his wife of 42 years, Jen-Mei Lui, and three sons, Jeff, Steve and Derek.

A celebration of life will be planned for the future.