The 39th Research Students’ Conference (RSC) in Probability and Statistics took place from June 14th to June 16th 2016 at the O’Brien Science Center, University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland. The RSC is a large annual conference that is organised by PhD students for PhD students in any field relating to probability and statistics. Being a student conference, the RSC provides delegates with a friendly and relaxed environment to discuss research and exchange ideas.
This year was the first time that the RSC was hosted outside of the UK, and it was a huge success. Overall, there were 88 delegates in attendance, from a number of universities across Ireland, UK and Sweden. Almost every delegate gave a talk or a poster presentation, with the research topics spanning fields such as Biostatistics, Official Statistics, Mathematical Statistics, and Bayesian Statistics – to name just a few. This year, our two guest speakers were Prof. Uwe Ligges (Dortmund University, Germany) and Prof. Brendan Murphy (UCD), who gave inspiring talks about the roles of statisticians in society and the different paths we could take post-PhD.
As this was the first occasion the RSC had taken place in Ireland, a number of social events were organised to showcase the beauty of Dublin to our British and international friends, including a bus tour which took delegates around Dublin and provided a taste of its long history and vibrant culture. The charm and the humour of our Irish tour guide left a memorable impression on our international friends. Delegates also enjoyed a live music event at one of Dublin’s favourite pubs, the Whelans, and a comedy night at the Anseo pub. On the final night, the conference dinner took place in the welcoming atmosphere of the Hampton hotel, followed by fun group dancing afterwards.
All in all, RSC 2016 was a great success, and the feedback we received was very positive with many delegates commenting that it had been one of the the best conferences they had attended. We hope that delegates not only left RSC 2016 with many new research ideas, but also new friendships and lots of great memories.
The 5th Survival Analysis for Junior Researchers Conference took place in Leeds on 13-14 April 2016 with support from the Royal Statistical Society, and attracted over 40 delegates. The two-day event featured two keynote addresses on sequential analysis of clinical trials data (Prof Walter Gregory, LICTR), and how big-data and linkage creates challenges and opportunities for survival analysis (Dr Matthew Sperrin, University of Manchester). There were also a range of sessions in which delegates from across the UK and Ireland presented and discussed their research findings, with themes including flexible modelling, emerging methodology, subsequent therapy, and applications in practice. The RSS Young Statisticians’ Section were also in attendance, and provided an overview of the RSS and the benefits of being a member.
Next year’s meeting will be held at the University of Leicester.
REVIEW – Multi-state modelling workshop in Leeds (joint event with RSS Leeds/Bradford) on 14 Apr 2016
Complementary to the “Survival Analysis for Junior Researchers Conference” (see above), an afternoon workshop on multi-state modelling was jointly organised by the RSS Young Statisticians’ Section and the Leeds/Bradford local group on 14 April 2016. Several SAfJR delegates stayed on for the workshop and were joined by local group members. The meeting was introduced and chaired by Professor Linda Sharples (Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research, University of Leeds).
The first speaker was Dr Andrew Titman (Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Lancaster) who gave a talk entitled ‘Multi-state modelling: An overview’ to provide an introduction to the methodology. The talk gave an overview of the principal methods and key assumptions used in multi-state models, covering both continuously observed processes (where much of the machinery from standard survival analysis carries across) and interval-censored or panel-observed data (where there are additional computational challenges, and analysis is usually parametric). The methods were illustrated through application to progression-free and overall survival in cancer studies, and modelling the onset of cardiac allograft vasculopathy in post-heart-transplantation patients.
To offer an example of current research in the field, Dr Aidan O’Keeffe (Department of Statistical Science, University College London) gave a presentation entitled ‘Multi-state models and causal arguments: Application to a study of clinical damage in psoriatic arthritis’. The presentation illustrated the use of multi-state models as a method for assessing a causal effect of one process on another in the context of psoriatic arthritis, and showed how multi-state models can be used to assess the causal relationship between disease activity (tenderness and swelling) and clinical joint damage.
The final speaker was Dr Howard Thom (School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol) whose talk was entitled ‘Using Parameter Constraints to choose State-Structures in Cost-effectiveness Modelling’. This research addressed the question of structural uncertainty in cost-effectiveness decision models – in particular, the choice of state-structure when using a multi-state model. Key model outputs, such as treatment recommendations and identification of future research needs, may be sensitive to this choice of state-structure. Dr Thom described a new method that involves re-expressing a model with merged states as a model on the larger state space, meaning that standard statistical methods for comparing models with a common reference dataset can be used. This methodology was then applied to data for prescribing anti-depressants by depression severity.
Overall, the workshop gave a comprehensive overview of methodologies in the field, and illustrated them through two very different applications in causal assessment of the relationship between different elements of arthritis and to health economics decision modelling.
The slides from the event can be found at the local group website: