Simon Tavaré obtained his PhD in Probability and Statistics in 1979 from the University of Sheffield, and began his research career in the USA. After an informal postdoc with Sam Karlin in Stanford, he held positions in Mathematics at the University of Utah, Statistics at Colorado State University, and Mathematics at the University of Southern California. He held the Kawamoto Chair in Biological Sciences at USC from 1998 to 2014. His research there included work in computational statistics, bioinformatics, probabilistic combinatorics and inference for stochastic processes.

In 2003, Simon moved to the University of Cambridge, as Professor of Cancer Research in the Department of Oncology, a group leader in the Cambridge Research Institute from 2006, and a Professor in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. From February 2013 to January 2018 he was Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, which became a department of the University of Cambridge in January 2013. His group focused on statistical bioinformatics and computational biology, particularly evolutionary approaches to understanding cancer biology. In 2009 Simon was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci), in 2011 a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and in 2015 a member of EMBO. He gave the American Mathematical Society’s Einstein Lecture in 2015, and was one of the invited speakers at ICIAM2015 in Beijing. He was President of the London Mathematical Society from 2015 to 2017, and was elected a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2018.

In 2018, Simon moved to Columbia, where he is Herbert and Florence Irving Professor of Cancer research, a professor in the Departments of Statistics and Biological Sciences, and Founding Director of the new Irving Institute for Cancer Dynamics. He was elected as a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2018.