Esther J. Lu, PhD

Esther J. Lu, PhD

Associate Professor of Surgery



BS, Computational Mathematics, Nankai University, Tianjin, P.R. China, 1993-1997

MS, Financial Mathematics, National University of Singapore, Singapore, 1999-2001

PhD, Biostatistics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, 2001-2007

Teaching Appointments

Associate Professor of Surgery, Division of Public Health Sciences

Master of Population Health Sciences (MPHS) degree program

  • M19-550 Randomized Controlled Trials
  • M19-527 Development, Validation, and Application of Risk Prediction Models

Master of Science in Biostatistics (MSIBS) degree program

  • M21-617 Study Design and Clinical Trials

Professional Memberships

American Statistical Association

International Biometric Society



Areas of Research Interest

Dr. Lu’s primary research interests include study design and data analysis in longitudinal studies and cluster randomized clinical trials (CRTs). Specifically, 1) Optimal designs of both longitudinal data and two-level/three-level CRTs using generalized estimating equation (GEE) models; 2) Relative efficiency of unequal versus equal cluster sizes in two-level CRTs using both GEE models and bias-corrected sandwich estimators; and 3) Sample size considerations in both three-level CRTs and stepped wedge designs using GEE models. Her research also includes propensity score methodology, survival data analysis, and prediction models. As a lead statistician during 2007-2009, she served on many projects including Phase I-IV clinical trials across different functional departments at the Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) Inc., which has ensured meeting the regulatory demands of FDA and submission deadlines of pharmaceutical companies. She is a member of the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS) Research Design and Biostatistics Group (RDBG) and is currently providing statistical support for the projects of the Siteman Cancer Center (SCC). At the SCC, she served as the main statistician in the areas of Gastrointestinal, Gynecology, Head and Neck, and Thoracic diseases. She has had highly productive collaborations with these research teams and published more than 140 manuscripts including as lead statistician on randomized clinical trials published in New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association (2), and Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Selected Active Support Grants

P50CA196510Hawkins, William 7/28/2016 – 6/30/2021
National Institutes of Health  
Washington University SPORE in Pancreatic Cancer
R01CA233848James, Aimee7/1/2019 – 6/30/2024
National Institutes of Health  
Implementing multilevel colon cancer screening interventions to reduce rural cancer disparities
P50CA244431Brownson/Colditz   9/1/2019 – 8/31/2024
National Institutes of Health  
Washington University Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control
R01HS026742Newland, Jason     9/1/2019 – 8/31/2024
National Institutes of Health  
De-Implementation of Unnecessary Surgical Antibiotic Prophylaxis in Children
National Institutes of Health  
Supporting the Health and Well-being of Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disability During COVID-19 Pandemic


1. Heiden BT, Subramanian MP, Liu J, Keith A, Engelhardt KE, Meyers BF, Puri V, MD, Kozower BD. Pilot Study of Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) After Esophagectomy. Annals of Thoracic Surgery. 2022 Jan 13. PMID: 35033508

2. Oppelt P, Ley JC, Worden F, Palka K, Maggiore R, Liu J, Adkins D. Palbociclib and cetuximab in cetuximab-resistant human papillomavirus-related oropharynx squamous-cell carcinoma: A multicenter phase 2 trial. Oral Oncol. 2021 Mar;114:105164. Epub 2021 Jan 16. PMID: 33465681.

3. Malone S, McKay VR, Krucylak C, Powell BJ, Liu J, Terrill C, Saito JM, Rangel SJ, Newland JG. A cluster randomized stepped-wedge trial to de-implement unnecessary post-operative antibiotics in children: the optimizing perioperative antibiotic in children (OPerAtiC) trial. Implement Sci. 2021 Mar 19;16(1):29. PMID: 33741048; PMCID: PMC7980649.

4. Tuuli MG, Liu J, Tita ATN, Longo S, Trudell A, Carter E, Shanks A, Woolfolk C, Caughey AB, Warren D, Odibo A, Colditz G, Macones GA, Harper L. A Randomized Trial of Negative Pressure Wound Therapy at Cesarean delivery. Journal of the American Medical Association 2020; 324(12):1180-1189

5. Liu J, Colditz GA. Sample size calculation in three-level cluster randomized trials using generalized estimating equation models. Statistics in Medicine2020 Oct 30;39(24):3347-3372. Epub 2020 Jul 28. PMID: 32720717; PMCID: PMC8351402.

6. Liu J, Liu L, Colditz GA. Optimal designs in three-level cluster randomized trials with a binary outcome. Statistics in Medicine 2019; 38:3733-3746.

7. Cahill AG, Srinivas SK, Tita A, Caughey AB, Richter H, Gregory T, Liu J, Woolfork C, Weinstein D, Mathur A, Macones GA, Tuuli MG. Effect of immediate vs Delayed Pushing on Rates of Spontaneous Vaginal Delivery among Nulliparous Women Receiving Neuraxial Analgesia: A Multicenter Randomized Trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 2018 Oct 9; 320(14):1444-1454. PubMed PMID: 30304425

8. Liu J, Colditz GA. Relative efficiency of unequal versus equal cluster sizes in cluster randomized trials using generalized estimating equation models. Biometrical Journal 2018, 60(3):616-38

9. Liu J, Colditz GA. Optimal design of longitudinal data analysis using generalized estimating equation models. Biometrical Journal 2017; 59(2):315-30. PMID: 27878852

10. Tuuli MG, Liu J, Stout MJ, Martin S, Cahill AG, Odibo AO, Colditz GA, Macones GA. A randomized trial comparing skin antiseptic agents at cesarean delivery. New England Journal of Medicine 2016 Feb 18; 374 (7):647-55. PMID: 26844840.

11. Rock CL, Flatt SW, Byers TE, Colditz GA, Demark-Wahnefried W, Ganz PA, Wolin KY, Elias A, Krontiras H, Liu J, Naughton M, Pakiz B, Parker BA, Sedjo RL, Wyatt H, for the Exercise and Nutrition to Enhance Recovery and Good Health for You (ENERGY) Trial Group. Results of the Exercise and Nutrition to Enhance Recovery and Good Health for You (ENERGY) Trial: A Behavioral Weight Loss Intervention in Overweight or Obese Breast Cancer Survivors. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2015, 33(28):3169-76.

12. Gay HA*, Liu J* (Co-first authors), Spencer CR, Lewis JS, Diaz J, Nussenbaum B, Piccirillo JF, Ferraro DJ, Wildes TM, Sinha P, Adkins DR, Haughey BH, and Thorstad WL. Outcomes of p16 positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma treated with surgery and adjuvant IMRT. Journal of Radiation Oncology, 2015: 4(1): 37-46.

13. Crabtree TD, Puri V, Robinson C, Bradley J, Broderick S, Patterson A, Liu J, Musick J, Bell J, Chang M, Meyers BF. Analysis of first recurrence and survival in patients with stage I non-small cell lung cancer treated with surgical resection or stereotactic radiation therapy. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 2014; 147(4): 1183-92. PMCID: PMC4113038

14. Fernandez FG, Crabtree TD, Liu J, Meyers BF. Incremental Risk of Prior Coronary Arterial Stents for Pulmonary Resection. Annals of Thoracic Surgery 2013; 95(4): 1212-1220.

15. Carson KR, Bartlett NL, McDonald JR, Luo S, Zeringuie A, Liu J, Fu J, Chang S-H, Colditz GA. Increased Body Mass Index is associated with improved survival in United States veterans with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2012; 30(26): 3217-3222. PubMed PMCID: PMC3434980.


To contact Dr. Lu, call 314-362-0387 or email