January 6, 2015

Robert M. Hamer, PhD, research professor of biostatistics at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and professor of psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine, died in his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on Dec. 28, 2015. He was 65 years old.

Dr. Robert Hamer

Dr. Robert Hamer

Hamer earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1971, a master’s degree in psychology and statistics from North Carolina State University in 1976 and a doctoral degree in behavioral statistics from UNC in 1979. He joined the UNC faculty in 2001.

Hamer previously had been on the faculties of the University of Iowa, Virginia Commonwealth University, Rutgers University and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (when it was part of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey). In addition to teaching, Hamer spent his time designing, planning and working on psychopharmacology clinical trials; performing collaborative psychiatric research; studying clinical trials methodology and statistics; serving on multiple National Institutes of Health study sections and Food and Drug Administration advisory boards; and mentoring numerous post-doctoral research associates and junior faculty members.

“Bob Hamer had an infectious enthusiasm for biostatistics and the important roles it plays in medical research. His enthusiasm reached students, staff and faculty in both the Department of Biostatistics and the Department of Psychiatry,” said Michael R. Kosorok, PhD, W.R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor and chair of the biostatistics department at the Gillings School. “I am grateful for the privilege I had to become acquainted with Bob. He will be missed.

“Bob has been my mentor and friend since he returned to UNC,” shared Jackie Johnson, assistant professor of psychiatry and adjunct assistant professor of biostatistics, who was Hamer’s BIOS 600 teaching assistant. Over the years, Hamer hired Johnson into a number of roles including master’s-level statistician, graduate research assistant and now faculty member. “There is no area of my career he hasn’t touched,” she added. “I learned how to be an applied statistician from watching him. I will deeply miss our almost daily chats, and all of us in the psychiatry and biostatistics groups will miss Bob’s humor.”

Hamer is survived by his wife, Frances; his children Kenneth Delhagen, Circe (Jeffrey) Beadle and Lisa Vaile; his granddaughters Corrine, Sydney, Victoria and Aubrey; and his sisters Sharon Hamer Curran and Diane Hamer. He also is survived by his mother, Eleanor Hamer, and was predeceased by his father, Howard Harmer.

“Bob was a sensitive, generous son, brother, husband, father and grandfather,” said his sister, Diane. “He leaves us all the grateful recipients of his tremendous personality and spirit.”

A memorial service is planned for the spring of 2016. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to PORCH Chapel Hill/Carrboro or Transplanting Traditions.


Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu

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