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Monthly Archives: March 2014

ANNOUNCEMENT – YSS Funding Workshop 2014 on 30 May 2014


YSS Funding Workshop 2014 – The Inside Scoop on Research Funding

Friday 30 May (12:30pm to 4:30pm), Errol St, London

For further details on this event, please click on the image above!

REVIEW – YSS “Careers in Statistics” event on 26 Mar 2014

Alan Turing building, The University of Manchester, UK


Manchester RSS/YSS special meeting: Careers in Statistics

Review by Mark Pilling

On Wednesday 26th March the Mathematics Department at the University of Manchester hosted a special “Careers in Statistics” event, designed to broaden the horizons of career-young statisticians through showcasing the wide range of different statistical careers that are available. It was jointly organised by the University of Manchester School of Mathematics, and the Royal Statistical Society (Young Statisticians Section and Manchester Local Group).

Approximately 80 people attended, and there was a full line-up of 10 short talks on a variety of professional fields as diverse as medicine, finance, industry, environment, government and academia. The first session was mainly academic-related careers, and the second session was mainly industry-related roles.

Dr Matt Sperrin (Manchester University) opened the event with an introduction to the roles of the RSS and YSS sections, future events, and the practical benefits of becoming a member. Prof Chris Roberts (Centre for Biostatistics, Manchester University) spoke about the major employers of Statisticians in the UK and the applicable fields of study, “What does a medical Statistician do?” and an interesting example of responding to a topical issue in the media’s reporting of the claims for trials of an Anti-Ageing Skin Cream! This was followed by practical advice of career routes & fellowships.

Dr Jill Johnson (School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds) spoke about her career history with advice to new graduates. As an applied Statistician for first the Food and Environment Agency and now on a climate-modelling-related study, she explained how being able to learn new technical skills was a recurring feature of statistical work. Mark Griffiths (DWP, Government Statistics) spoke about his career trajectory & career paths within the government. This included the types of skills that are required, opportunities to influence policy, and section on “Myth-busting” about the Civil Service. The session closed with Dr Wendy Olsen (Senior Lecturer in Socio-Economic Research, University of Manchester) about roles in international organisations available to Statisticians, insights into her career decisions, and comments on consultancy roles & how best to correctly specify problems.

After a break, Dr Catherine O’Hara (North West Cancer Intelligence Service, Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) resumed with a description of the roles available in Healthcare research, and the future need for Statisticians as healthcare needs evolve. Xin Wang (Discovery Statistics, AstraZeneca) spoke about Pharmaceutical Statistics, her career path, the impact of the role & the wide range of skills required by a Statistician – especially strong communication skills. This was illustrated by examples requiring experimental design, drug combination analysis and techniques for high-dimensional data. The CEO of Phastar, Kevin Kane, gave a detailed insight into roles with Clinical Research Organisations (CRO) and the fine distinctions between their Statistician & Programmer roles – sometimes based on temperament! Covering work-life expectations and also contrasting CROs to Pharma, Kevin closed by illustrating where value can be added with an example of a non-standard analysis.

Dr Jan Taylor (NowGen, Manchester Biomedical Research Centre) surprised the audience by explaining that Medical Statisticians were all Bioinformaticians! Her detailed talk on topical areas of research (Genetics & Genomics), the growing need in the NHS for data scientists and the “Fantastic!” career prospects met a responsive audience. The session closed with Dr Tim Dinsdale (Goldman Sachs) speaking about the ongoing need for “Quants” in the Financial sector, and the competitive application process required. He gave an explanation of the likely departments of employment as well as the growing opportunities for students from quantitative disciplines. The day finished with opportunities for further questions & networking over wine at the closing reception. Given the very positive feedback on the day, we expect this event to be repeated in future.

On behalf of the organising committee: Elizabeth Boggis, Christiana Charalambous, Peter Foster, Mark Pilling & Matthew Sperrin

Acknowledgments: The meeting was supported by Manchester University Mathematics Department, RSS Manchester section, YSS, & Special thanks to all the speakers for their time in helping to make a success of the day.




ANNOUNCEMENT – Beyond the Two-Arm RCT on 15 May 2014


Beyond the Two-Arm RCT – A joint event between the Primary Care Special Interest Group and the Young Statisticians Section

15 May 2014 – Clinical Trials Research House, Leeds

This is a two-part event: the morning (10am-1pm) is a workshop (fee payable) on ‘Sample size and power for complex interventions’, while the afternoon (2-5pm) is a seminar series (free) on ‘Non standard trial designs’. Both will take place in the Clinical Trials Research House, Leeds (see The event is being jointly organised by the Primary Care Special Interest Group and the Young Statisticians Section of the RSS.


Further details on the morning:

10.00am – Welcome from Young Statisticians Section
10.10am – Planning cluster RCTs: sample size and ICCs (Sandra Eldridge)
10.45am – Sample size by simulation (Richard Hooper)
11.15am – Coffee
11.30am – Case studies: sample size calculations for four unusual trial designs. Including: (1) Adaptive trial design with interim analysis to review sample size – Isabelle Smith; (2) Sample size considerations in surgical trials – Neil Corrigan.
12.30pm – Discussion and close
Followed by lunch (included in cost)

Registration with payment required – at

Registration fees:
£25 RSS Student & Retired Fellows
£27 RSS CStats & GradStats
£30 RSS Fellows
£35 RSS section & student members
£50 None of the above


Further details on the afternoon:

2.00pm – Cluster RCT with balanced incomplete blocks (Amanda Farrin, Leeds University)
2.30pm – The Analysis of Trials with Partial Nesting (Chris Roberts, Manchester University)
3.00pm – Design and analysis of non-inferiority trials (David Gillespie, Cardiff University)
3.30pm – Tea/coffee
4.00pm – Group discussion
5.00pm – Close

No pre-registration is required for the afternoon meeting, which is free of charge.

Please direct queries to Maurice Marchant:

REVIEW – Voice of the Future 2014 on 19 Mar 2014

On Wednesday 19 March 2014, young scientific researchers and select politicians gathered at the Houses of Parliament to discuss the current role of science in the UK, for the third instalment of ‘Voice of the Future’, organised by the Society of Biology. The Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Mark Walport, took the first session of questions, sharing some of the experiences of his recent career. Next, members of parliament on the Science and Technology Select Committee from the three main political parties were given the opportunity to offer personal opinions of a range of current scientific topics. The final two sessions of questions were fielded by the Shadow Minister and the Minister for Universities and Science, Rt Hon Liam Byrne MP and Rt Hon David Willetts MP respectively.

Overall, the session was a very rewarding one – as an early career researcher, attending the event offered a new perspective on scientific research that one rarely gets to see in the course of a day-to-day job. In addition, it allowed attendees to hear a range of political perspectives on scientific research and development, and offered potential pathways for researchers to become more involved and engaged in this process.

Review by Dan Green.