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President’s Corner

Hello everyone!  It seems like only yesterday that many of us were in Barcelona at the IBC meetings.  You will find more detail elsewhere in the Bulletin, but the consensus seems to be that the meetings were a great success.  I have told you in recent President’s Corner articles about how grateful I am to our Outgoing President, Elizabeth Thompson, who was responsible for organizing the Barcelona meetings, as well as the Program Chair, Charmaine Dean, and her committee and our Local Organizing Committee Co-Chairs, Lupe Gomez and Pere Puig, and their committee. Our IBS Business Office headed by Peter Doherty, and the conference management company, Grupo Pacifico, also put in fantastic effort.  I tried to pay very close attention to all the detail, since I will be responsible for organizing the 2020 meetings in Seoul Korea.

I thought you might be interested to hear the results from our post conference survey.  You are all statisticians, after all :) .  Our Secretary/Treasurer, Brad Biggerstaff, has kindly analysed the results and you can find his report at here.  Briefly, though, 220 of us responded to the survey (just under 25% response rate).   Respondents were split close to 50/50 on gender and just over half (116) were under 40.  We had one person aged 80 to 90 (no, not me … yet!).  It was interesting that while the majority of respondents were IBS members, a quarter (53) were not — that opens up possibilities of attracting new members in the future!   Not surprisingly, the majority of attendees were from Europe, especially Spain.   Here is a snapshot from my presentation at the Closing Ceremony, showing the breakdown of attendee country, based on registration.

I found it interesting to see that the vast majority of our attendees (168 of 219) were from academia.  This also opens up interesting possibilities about thinking of ways to reach out to colleagues in industry and government.  You will not be surprised to know that the almost everyone (97%) was satisfied or very satisfied with our host city of Barcelona!  What’s not to love! It is a fantastically beautiful and interesting city, with the only possible downside being the throngs of tourists who obviously feel the same way!  The survey gave us food for thought (pun intended!) about catering.  We hear you loud and clear —- Enough of the lunchtime sandwiches!  Plus, we need MORE COFFEE!  We have already made clear notes for 2020!  People seemed very happy on the whole with our venue (the Barcelona Convention Centre), the length of the conference, the scientific program and the quality of speakers.   I was particularly impressed with the location of the venue, right next to the Mediterranean.  It was lovely to take a walk in the early morning or evening to clear the head and stretch the legs.

One of the things we asked about in the survey was your suggestions for topics to include in IBC2020.  There were some great suggestions, including more machine learning, more computational statistics, more ecology, agriculture and environmental statistics, as well as some more modern perspectives on public health research (e.g. analysis of health insurance claim data, emergency health, and big data in health).  We would love to include topics like this and we already have our 2020 International Program Committee thinking about it.   In fact, a call will be going out soon for proposed invited sessions, so if you have good ideas, please consider submitting a proposal.   In the meantime, our IPC Chair, Renato Assunção, will be pleased to brainstorm with you about your ideas.  Please feel free to email him ( or me (  The IBS Education Committee, under the leadership of Annette Kopp-Schneider, is also starting to think about short course offerings for the Seoul meetings.  If you have suggestions or ideas, I am sure Annette would love to hear from you!  Please email her at

I wanted to update you on a few initiatives currently underway with the IBS Communications Committee, chaired by KyungMann Kim.  The first has to do with a major redesign of our IBS website.  With the help of our IBS Executive Director Peter Doherty, KyungMann’s committee put together a very detailed Request for Proposals.  I am pleased to say we have received four strong responses and are in the throes of evaluating them. Among the features we are seeking in the new website is an interactive member forum along the lines of what the American Statistical Association hosts on their webpage (see  This cannot only facilitate communication among our members; it will help our Committees to communicate better. It will also provide a platform that we can use to develop an effective IBS mentoring program, designed to support and encourage students and early career researchers.  We also plan a major system upgrade is that it opens up the possibility of developing an enhanced and streamlined interface whereby new members can join the society and existing members can renew their membership.   The current system is quite old-fashioned and very labour intensive for both the regions and our central business office.  Consequently, it is easy for errors to creep in and there are often lags in updating member information.  In these days of modern information technology, it is a no-brainer for us to upgrade our processes with a modern web interface and more sophisticated file transfer systems.  It will make life easier for all of us, freeing up regional officers and central business office staff to focus on more strategic matters.  Various discussion, especially with regional officers, suggests that there is great diversity in how our regions process member information, so we need to be careful in making changes. If you are someone with interest in these sorts of things and especially if you have some technical know-how, we’d love to hear from you!  Please get in touch if you have specific thoughts or expertize that you would like to share.

As you know, a second major initiative from the Communications Committee relates to the new IBS Social Media presence.   Basically, we want to propel IBS into the 21st century with a more vibrant social media presence, especially one that will attract younger members. The previous chair of the Communications Committee, Kathy Ruggiero from the Australasian Region, is leading the effort. Currently we are still trying to create a network of Regional Social Media Liaisons, with representatives from all the various IBS Regions. It is moving more slowly than I would like and not all regions have nominated someone. If you are interested in this topic, get in touch with your region to see how you can get involved. Or reach out to Kathy (

I told you in the last President’s Corner about another activity that had been launched by the Communications Committee, namely the IBS Photo Competition.  We got some really great entries and Kathy will be announcing the winner(s) soon.   Some of the entries have been posted on the IBS Facebook page and in the IBS Twitter feed.  As we work on our website revamp, we will also be loading some there. In the meantime, here are a couple that I liked. The first one is from the gala dinner at the IBC2004 in Cairns. Then President Geert Molenberghs and myself as Program Chair got called up on stage for some dancing with the locals!

The second photo is from the IBC2010 in Florianopolis Brazil, and shows our Communications Committee Chair KyungMann Kim dancing with one of the locals.

So, as you can see, our IBC meetings can be a lot of fun!  I hope you are already planning for IBC2020 in Seoul where I am sure our Local Organizing Committee will have arranged some fun activities as well. This third photo shows our Seoul LOC Chairs, Taerim Lee and Taesung Park, talking about what a great conference they are planning.  Taerim looked beautiful in the traditional Korean dress she had donned for the occasion.

From the Editor

Dear Readers,

I was happy to participate in the IBC2018 conference in Barcelona. The location was amazing, the conference was interesting and I enjoyed the talks, posters and social events. I participated in the communication committee meeting held on Monday July 9, chaired by KyungMann Kim. Among the topics discussed, there were the new IBS website and finding my replacement as the editor of the Biometric Bulletin. Yes, the next issue will be the last one under my editorship. Three years have passed very quickly! It was exciting for me to be honored, as part of the IBS Awards Presentation, in Barcelona. I enjoyed meeting some of you in Barcelona, seeing those whom I am already familiar with, and some new friends.

In this issue, we publish an article on the 2nd topic group (TG): Selection of Variables and Functional Forms in Multivariable Analysis (TG2), a fifth in a series of papers on the STRengthening Analytical Thinking for Observational Studies (STRATOS) initiative. In this article, Aris Perperoglou et al describe the two main challenges: (i) selection of variables for inclusion in a multivariable explanatory model, and (ii) choice of the functional forms for continuous variables. They also describe several projects of this TG, e.g. two projects related to the educational part of this group, where the aim is to support analysts with lower level of statistical knowledge (Level 1), i.e. guiding applied researchers to avoid common misconceptions about the appropriate use of modeling strategies.

We are happy to publish a Special Feature article on How statisticians are Embracing Digital Platforms and Social Media, written by the professional journalist, Daria Steigman. The article is based on interviews with four professionals in the field, about how they are using online tech tools to support and grow their work: Hadely Wickham, Chief Scientist at RStudio and adjunct Professor of Statistics at the University of Auckland, Stanford University, and Rice University; Hilary Parker, a data scientist at Stitch Fix; Amelia McNamara, assistant professor of computer and information sciences at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul); and Tanya Cashorali, founder and CEO of TCB Analyticsand an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at the University of Auckland, Stanford University, and Rice University.

In addition, we publish an obituary on Prof Doug Altman, who passed away on 3rd June 2018, written by Stephen Evans and published in July’s BIR Regional newsletter. You will also find in this issue a new riddle in the Mathematical Riddle. It is again taken from website for Leisure Time Learning Challenges. Please send answers to The first 5 to answer correctly will be mentioned in the next Bulletin.

I am looking forward to my last issue, to be published around December 2018. Stay tuned.

From left to right Louise Ryan (IBS President) and Havi Murad (Outgoing Biometric Bulletin Editor)

Havi Murad

Obituary: Doug Altman

By Stephen Evans (BIR)

Each of us is unique if looked at in a sufficiently high number of dimensions. Doug Altman, who died on 3rd June 2018, was unique when looked at even in a relatively small number of dimensions. In January 2015 he was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, which responded to treatment for about 3 years. He was able to keep working until shortly before he died.

His research output in medical statistics is an extreme outlier in terms of its magnitude, quality and influence. His record of collaboration, especially with Martin Bland, is unparalleled; his encouragement of younger statisticians and his inclusive and kind approach to everyone endeared him to all who met him. Doug was always fun to be with, whether enjoying an Indian meal or working on a statistical project. There would be a pause: Doug had seen some quirk that his sense of humour appreciated, and his characteristic laughter would ring out.  Many of his lectures and other clips of him are available on the internet, and at least one that has captured that infectious laugh.

Doug read statistics as one of the first undergraduates at the new University of Bath. His first job in 1970 was at St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School with Walter Holland (who also died in 2018). He moved in 1977 to Northwick Park, the Medical Research Council’s Clinical Research Centre, where he worked with Patrick Royston, another important long-term collaborator. Most of his early statistical experience was in working with medical researchers, and his meeting the late Dave Sackett at St Thomas’ was clearly an important influence. Later, his reading of Donald Mainland’s book and other writings on medical statistics encouraged him to emphasise statistical thinking rather than statistical arithmetic.

He seemed to prefer a compartmentalised life and many collaborators were unaware of his family. Sue, his wife and partner over many years, was a tremendous support to him. He saw no need to acquaint his children with his academic reputation, and his daughter was unaware of his standing until fellow-students at university mentioned it. Family friends remember his enthusiasm for cycling on holidays and enjoyment in travel. Doug’s tastes in music were eclectic and possibly even idiosyncratic; his hair and beard would have done justice to any member of a 1970’s rock band.

While remaining modest about his own achievements, Doug was passionately critical of the poor standards in medical research. He tried to improve the situation by writing his textbook, “Practical Statistics for Medical Research”. He regarded its publication in 1990 as a major achievement: “Starting one is easy, finishing it is much more difficult”. This book has helped and educated many thousands of investigators and continues to sell. After studying the quality of reports of trials, he devoted much of his career to trying to improve reporting. Although he was not an author of the first CONSORT paper, the updating of CONSORT with its extensions and similar guidelines on systematic reviews owed much to his capacity for driving them along. The EQUATOR network now has a plethora of guidelines to help researchers, especially in reporting, but also, as with the STRATOS initiative, in doing research.  In all of these he worked with many others, notably David Moher from Ottawa, Canada. Doug was never content to have published guidelines – he wished continually to improve them, and also to try to measure their impact on the medical literature. His work has undoubtedly benefitted many thousands, if not millions, of patients around the world by helping to filter out poor research and improve the quality and clarity of good research.

Forty thousand is a number that may be associated with him. It is the current number of citations (according to Google) of The Lancet’s most cited paper ever: his 1986 publication with Martin Bland on method comparison. It is also, approximately from Google Scholar, the overall number of citations of his various CONSORT papers; and the number of citations his papers of all types received in the year 2017 alone. The number of citations of the 2009 PRISMA statement, and others concerning systematic reviews and meta-analysis, exceeded 40,000 by 2017. Such a record is extremely impressive, but it came from a man who never had a PhD (though he obtained a DSc based on his publications; perhaps an even higher doctorate needs to be invented to recognise his amazing record!), and whose early path from school through university was something of a struggle for him. Maybe that was what gave him a gentle touch with others. Perhaps also his lack of self-importance allowed him to be insightfully critical of poor research without causing offence.

In 2014, The Biometric Society heard an interesting talk from Martin Bland about their most highly cited paper:

This paper was a “Citation Classic” by 1992 and has gone on being cited, becoming one of the most highly cited papers in any area of research.

Doug grasped opportunities that arose, with no organised plan or high ambitions for honour. His BMJ “Lifetime Achievement Award”, and the delightful presentation of a (very large) bound copy of all his BMJ publications, are indicators of the high esteem in which he was held. He and the late Martin Gardner were the first statistical members of their “Hanging Committee”. Stephen Lock, then editor of the BMJ, named the committee after the Royal Academy’s Hanging Committee, where to be “hung” was a great honour. This name, that meant something other than the first impression, appealed to Doug’s humour as well.

Doug’s early death is such a loss
to us all. 

BIR Committee 1986-1988

Council 1990-1993

President 1997-1998

Doug was a member up to and including this year.

XXIX International Biometric Conference (IBC2018) Post Conference Review

Organizing President Report from the IBC 2018 in Barcelona, Spain

We welcomed over 900 registrants from 62 countries to the very successful XXIXth International Biometric Conference, which was held in Barcelona, Spain, and hosted by the Spanish Region (REsp). For the excellent local arrangements, our thanks go to REsp, to its President Klaus Langohr, to the co-chairs of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Pere Puig and Lupe Gomez Melis, to all the LOC members, and to the wonderful energetic and enthusiastic Student Volunteers.   For the scientific program, very special thanks go to Charmaine Dean (WNAR) the chair of the International Program Committee (IPC) and to all the IPC members.  For the Short Courses and Statistics-in-Practice sessions, we thank the members of the Education Committee chaired earlier by Pascale Tubert-Bitter (RF) and then by Annette Kopp-Schneider (DR).  As in 2016, IBO was responsible for overall organization of the web site, abstract submission and review system, registration, and the very successful mobile app. Thanks go to IBO staff members and to members of Grupo Pacifico, the local management company.

Special thanks also goes to all who participated in organizing showcase sessions or awards programs, especially to the Awards Fund Committee, chaired by Dan Kajunga (UGDA),  to the members of Representative Council led by Pam Shaw (ENAR) who reviewed the Young Statistician submissions,  to Freedom Gumedze (GSAF) and Jane Hutton (BIR) who were the IBS partners in the joint ISI/IBS Committee to review ISI applicants in the Young Ambassadors competition, and to all the IPC and LOC members who, led by Jeannine Houwing-Duistermaat (ANed) and Monteserrat Rue  (REsp), participated in judging the Best Student Oral and Best Poster competitions at IBC.  We welcomed 15 travel grant awardees from Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa, Brazil, Georgia, India and Pakistan; five Young Statistician competition winners from Ethiopia, USA, Brazil, Australia, and UK; and two ISI Young Ambassadors from Bangladesh and from Nigeria.  This was truly a joint meeting of all the Regions of the IBS.

We had record numbers at almost every stage.  There were 18 Short Course applications, five were selected and offered, and attracted a total of 188 registrants.  There were 72 Invited Session proposals, and 18 were selected.  Additionally there were six Showcase sessions, including Biometrics and JABES showcases featuring selected best papers from 2016 and 2017, an ISI Invited Session, a Host Region Invited Session, and a Statistics in Practice session, kindly sponsored by Wiley. There were 878 Contributed Paper abstracts submitted; initially these resulted in 326 Oral acceptances and 456 Poster acceptances. Eventually, we had 285 Contributed Oral talks in 53 Contributed Sessions, and 278 Posters split between two 2-day Poster Sessions. In the conference competitions, 47 Young Statisticians submitted their papers in January, while 35 student members later completed submissions for the Best Student Oral competition. A total of 94 posters were submitted in the Best Poster competition.  Thank you to everyone who proposed, organized, or chaired Sessions, to all who submitted abstracts, and to all the participants who travelled to Barcelona and presented their research either orally or as a poster.

The Barcelona International Convention Centre provided an excellent venue for the meeting, with plenty of space for the full program of talks, posters and IBS governance meetings. Days started early and ended late, allowing for record numbers of sessions, while keeping to no more than 2 invited/showcase sessions and 3 contributed sessions in parallel.  The provision of bag lunches meant that people remained on site, and enjoyed either one of the lunch-time meetings, or could sit in a large hall with an outside balcony and wonderful view over the Mediterranean.  Our meeting was also well sponsored: sponsors included four publishers (Wiley, Springer, CRC, and OUP), and also (thanks again to the LOC) a large number of local Spanish Universities, Institutes, Societies, and Companies.   A very special initiative due to Lupe Gomez Melis was the naming of the session rooms for 6 distinguished deceased women in Biometry from 6 countries around the world. The wonderful posters produced by Lupe and her enthusiastic student helpers taught us all more about Susie Bayarri, Gertrude Cox, Aleyamma George, Florence Nightingale, Laura Pla, and Helen Newton Turner, and gave us a deeper appreciation of their contributions to our discipline.

On the Monday and Tuesday there was a focus on welcoming IBS Young Statisticians (YS); broadly those within three years of their last degree.  The now traditional Monday YS lunch was hugely successful, with the Kahoots game proving a true ice-breaker. Special thanks for the lunch activities to Isabel Serra (REsp) and Alex Sanchez (REsp).  Lunch was followed by the Statistics in Practice sessions, well-attended by delegates of all ages, and the Monday evening Welcome Reception  (moved from the traditional Sunday) was enjoyed by all.  On Tuesday afternoon, the YS Showcase session was followed by the Awards Ceremony at which the YS Showcase speakers were recognized, and later that evening the Young Statisticians Mixer at the BOO restaurant at the beach was another memorable event.

Also at the Tuesday Awards Ceremony, retiring editors of IBS journals were recognized and thanked for their contributions.  Marie Davidian (ENAR) completed 12 years of service as Biometrics Executive Editor, and Mike Daniels (ENAR) and Stijn Vansteelandt (RBe) have completed or are completing their terms as Biometrics Co-Editors.  Also completing their terms of service in 2018, we recognized Donna Pauler Ankerst (DR) the outgoing Biometrics Book Review Editor, Stephen Buckland (BIR) the outgoing JABES Editor, and Havi Murad (EMR) the Editor of the Biometric Bulletin.   The winners of the Biometrics and JABES Best Paper competitions for 2016 and 2017 were also recognized, and congratulated on their papers and on their Showcase presentations.  Then came the highlight of the ceremony.  The IBS Rob Kempton Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Biometry in the Developing World was made to Jim Todd (TNZ), and (also a new record number) four IBS Honorary Life Memberships were conferred on Marie Davidian (ENAR),  Hans van Houwelingen (ANed),  Martin Schumacher (DR), and  Alan Welsh (AR).

Many other social, scientific and administrative events showed the active and enthusiastic participation of IBS members.  The Tuesday lunch-time General Meeting of the society attracted the require quorum of regular members, allowing a small bylaw amendment to be passed. The Thursday lunch meeting organized by the Committee of Women in Statistics (CWS) and led by Shili Lin (ENAR) was very well attended, and we hope may become a regular IBC event.  The traditional Wednesday tours, organized by Grupo Pacifico but led also by local IBC participants, were enjoyed by many, as also was the Thursday Gala Dinner, which took place in the magnificently restored medieval gothic Royal Shipyard building, Drassanes Reials de Barcelona.  Finally, the Friday Closing Ceremony saw the awards to winners of the conference Best Student Oral and Best Poster competitions (listed below), more thanks and recognitions to others, and in closing a preview to the XXXth  International Biometric Conference, which will take place in Seoul, Korea,  5-10 July 2020.

Elizabeth Thompson
IBC2018 Organizing President

Young Statisticians of All Ages Joined Us at IBC 2018

By Peter Doherty

With a welcoming atmosphere, a superb lineup of talks, and with the weather being so cooperative, IBC2018 became an ideal setting for young statisticians to get to know their peers from around the world, exchange ideas, meet with mentors and learn from experienced presenters, all while taking in one of the most beautiful settings in Europe. All of these factors contributed to a highly successful biennial conference for young statisticians.

Louise Ryan’s President’s Message has already mentioned some of the noteworthy events, such as the Young Statisticians lunch and ice-breaker, the Monday evening Welcome Reception, the Young Statisticians Showcase session and Awards Ceremony, and the extremely popular Young Statisticians Mixer. Of course, the extraordinary support received from our Local Organizing Committee and our local Co-chairs, Lupe Gomez and Pere Puig, were critical to our success. Special praise should also be extended to the organizers of the Young Statisticians Program, especially Isabel Serra and Alex Sanchez, both of the Spanish Region.

As is tradition, we took a break from scientific sessions on Wednesday. Young statisticians were on the move that day, taking advantage of a few hours of freedom by enjoying the beauty of Barcelona and the surrounding region. The rest of the conference featured a wide variety of topics and new insights, with Thursday evening’s Gala Dinner once again proving to be a high point of the conference for many of our young participants.

We estimate that one third of our IBC2018 attendees are currently studying at the Undergraduate or Graduate level. For young professionals at the start of their career, a large international conference can be a career-changing experience. IBS leaders welcome the opportunity to show our newest participants just how important they are to the future of this Society and our profession. This attitude was on display throughout the conference. We also hope that young statisticians, no matter their chronological age, are comfortable with and appreciate the importance that the IBS places on creating a culture of openness, engaged learning, and diversity in all its forms.

On behalf of the Executive Board and our headquarters team in Washington, DC, thank you all for joining us. We encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas for making the next IBC even more useful and fun for young professionals.

Awards and Honors during the IBC2018

The Rob Kempton Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Development of Biometry in the Developing World was bestowed upon Jim Todd, of the Tanzanian Region. Supported by the British and Irish Region, the Uganda Region and the IBS Sub Sahara Network (SUSAN). Jim is known for his passion for teaching and education and for his contributions towards biostatistics training in Tanzania, East Africa and the Sub-Saharan African countries.

Jim Todd receiving The Rob Kempton Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Development of Biometry in the Developing World.

Jim is a longstanding member of the British & Irish Region, but active in several African regions; and helped establish the Tanzanian region and a Masters Program in Tanzania. Jim was a co-investigator on the Alpha network (Analysing Longitudinal Population-based HIV data in Africa), funded by Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation and on the Sub Saharan Africa Consortium for Advanced Biostatistical training (SSACAB) funded by Wellcome Trust and working is working to establish masters and PhD programs.  Jim is also active in THRiVE (Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence) consortium.

Jim initiated the IBS Journal Club, with “Welcome Africa focus. He is active in the SEARCH Program, training fellow in Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi in analysis of routinely collected HIV data. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of Parasite Immunology and Tropical Medicine and International health. He has worked in Uganda at Uganda Virus Research Institute. Currently Jim is a profession at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Congratulations to Jim Todd on being named recipient of the Rob Kempton Award!

Left: Brad Biggerstaff, IBS Treasurer, Jim Todd, Rob Kempton Award, Hans C. van Houwelingen Honorary Life Member, Louise Ryan, IBS President, Alan H Welsh, Honorary Life Member, and Elizabeth Thompson, Organizing President 

Honorary Life Memberships awarded during the IBC2018

Marie Davidian (ENAR), Hans C. van Houwelingen (ANed), Martin Schumacher (DR), and Alan H. Welsh (AR) named Honorary Life Members during the IBC2018 awards ceremony. 

Marie Davidian (ENAR) is a professor in the Department of Statistics at North Carolina State University. She has received the Honorary Life Membership for her outstanding support to the society, and her many years of service as Associate Editor, Coordinating Editor, and Executive Editor of Biometrics.

Marie has an exceptional record of outstanding contributions to biostatistical methodology for clinical trials, observational data, pharmacokinetic and pharmodynamic modelling, general methodology (longitudinal data, missing data, measurement error etc). She has received several distinguished awards including; J. Stuart Hunter Distinguished Professor of Statistics at NCState, George W Snedacor Award, IMS Medallion Lecturer, Florence Nightingale David Award and elected Fellow of ASA, IMS and AAAS.  Marie is active on many committees for National Institute of Health in the USA and is a passionate advocate for NIH funding for summer programs in biostatistics.

We thank Marie especially for her extraordinary service to Biometrics. She has served as the Associate Editor from 1997 – 2000, Coordinating Editor from 2000 – 20002, Editorial Representative on the IBS Executive Board from 2002 – 2003, Editorial Advisory Committee Chair from 2004 – 2007, and Executive Editor from 2006 – 2007.  Additionally, she has served as Program Chair and President of the Eastern North American Region (ENAR) of the IBS.


Geert Molenberg accepting the award on behalf of Marie Davidian during the IBC2018 Awards Ceremony.

Martin Schumacher (DR) received the Honorary Life Membership for his involvement in training and mentoring of many young researchers, the sharing of expertise with numerous commissions and committees, and for involvement in the International Biometric Conference in Freiburg. He has served as a professor at the University of Heidelberg, University of Dortmund, University of Washington Seattle and the University Medical Center Freiburg.

Martin holds a distinguished research career, with prolific contributions to statistical methods for clinical trials and epidemiological studies. He is a passionate mentor of young scholars, coordinating an EU funded Marie Curie Initial Training Network on Novel Statistical Methodology for Diagnostic/Prognostic and Therapeutic Studies and Systematic Reviews (MEDASRES).

He founded (1986) a Center for Biometry and Data Management, one of the first of its kind in a German University Hospital. This was one of the first Clinical Trials Coordinating Centers funded by the German Government in 1999. The German Cochrane Center and German Registry of Clinical Trials were also established at the institute.

Martin is an active member of the German region, with his Institute hosting  the IBC in Freiburg in 2002 as well as the third joint meeting of the German Statistical Society in 2013.  He is the leading contributor to many national and international committee and commissions. We thank Martin for his years as the Co-Editor of the Biometrical Journal (published with support from German and Austro-Swiss regions of IBS) from 2004 – 2009.

Andreas Faldum accepting the Honorary Life Award on behalf of Martin Schumacher during the IBC2018 Awards Ceremony.

Hans C. van Houwelingen (ANed) has been a full Professor at the University of Leiden since 1986, building a department with strong biostatistical tradition that is thriving today!  We thank Hans for his contributions to the growth and development of biostatistics in The Netherlands, and for years of service to the society as Associate Editor of Biometrics and organizer for the International Biometric Conference in Amsterdam.

The IBS recognizes Hans for his outstanding contributions to biostatistical methods. He is a prolific author including wide variety of applications.  He is known for his influential contributions in the area of predictive modelling, empirical Bayes, meta-analysis and competing risks.

Hans is very active in the Netherlands Region. He served as the President of the region from 1991 – 1996 and was the organizer for the IBC Amsterdam in 1996. Following, he was the Associate Editor for Biometrics from 2003 – 2006 and on the editorial board for seven other (bio)statistical journals.  He as been awarded Honorary Membership of the Dutch Statistical Society and has an award established in his name as well as a Biometrical Journal, special issue in his name in honour of his retirement.

Louise Ryan, IBS President presenting Hans C. van Houwelingen with the Honorary Life Membership Award.

Alan H. Welsh (AR) received the IBS Honorary Life Membership for his significant involvement in the IBS Australasian Region and service to the Society as Associate Editor of Biometrics and a member of Council, and for advancements in biometry through fundamental contributions to statistical methodology and theory.

He has been awarded for several prestigious awards including PAP Moran Award, the Moran medal and the Statistical Society of Australia.  Alan is an inspiring teacher and mentor. We honor him for his fundamental contributions to (bio)statistical theory and methods, including robustness and model selection in linear and linear mixed models, semiparametric estimation, zero-inflated data modelling, compositional data modeling and sample survey data analysis.

He is broadly active in statistical profession as a member of the Australian Bureau of Statistics Methodology Advisory Committee, active on various committees for Australian Academy of Science, and Accreditation Committee of the Statistics Society of Australia.

Alan has served as Assocate Editor for top journals such as Annals of Statistics (1998-2003), JASA (2005-2011), Bernoulli (2004-2009), Australian and New Zealand Journal of Statistics (1993-2009) and the International Journal of Biostatistics (2006-2009). He was also the Editor in Chief of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Statistics (2012-2015).

He is very active in IBS as a Member of the Executive Board (2006-2016) and President Elect (Current) of Australasian Region (President 2019-20). He has contributed via Program Committee for four regional conferences (Hobart 1999, Thredbo 2005, Biometrics by the Beach 2007, Biometrics by the Bay 2015).

Alan Welsh accepting the Honorary Life Member Award

Congratulations to our four newest and highly distinguished Honorary Life Members of IBS.

Prizes for Best Oral and Poster Presentation

The winners were announced at the closing ceremony of the IBC with certificates being awarded along with a book prize. We thank Springer for kindly donating books for prize winners and for the IBC Student Volunteers.

Best Student Oral Presentations at the IBC 

Congratulations to Anjali Gupta who won the Best Student Oral Presentation Competition. Anjali delivered her presentation titled: Random Projections for Multivariate Data for Bayesian Analysis with such poise and professionalism in the articulation of her work that the committee was overwhelmingly impressed.  The originality and creativity of the work was also outstanding, the methodology developed was related to weighing evidence in court and was seen to be quite original and clever.

The Committee found the decision very difficult because of the quality of the presentations. The committee also chose Anirudh Tomer as the runner-up winner for his talk titled ‘Personalized schedules for surveillance of low risk prostate cancer patients’.

Best Posters at the IBC

The winners are to be commended for being exceptionally articulate, for their research being original, topical and impactful, and for the clarity with which they answered questions posed by the judges.  The posters were also distinctly well-designed.

Best Poster by a Professional

  • Legesse Kassa Debusho
    Poster Title: Spatio-temporal quantile interval regression using R-INLA with applications to childhood overweight and obesity in sub-Saharan Africa

Best Poster by a Student 

  • Kuan Liu
    Poster Title: Estimation of causal effects with longitudinal data in a Bayesian framework

The committee also gave special mention to the poster by Danilo Alvares, titled ‘Bayesian joint modeling of longitudinal and semi-competing risks data’.

Congratulations to all!

We also would like to acknowledge the following award winners and our retiring editors. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to the IBS. 

Best Biometrics papers by IBS member

  • 2016: Biometrics 72: 1155-1163
    Z. Fang, Inyoung Kim and P.Schaumont
    ‘Flexible variable selection for recovering sparsity in nonadditive nonparametric models’

The 2016 Best Biometrics paper by IBS Member with Louise Ryan, IBS President

  • 2017: Biometrics 73: 656-665
    P. Hou, Joshua Tebbs, C.R. Bilder, and C.S. McMahan
    ‘Hierarchical group testing for multiple infections’

The 2017 Best Biometrics Papers by IBS Members with Louise Ryan, IBS president.

Best JABES papers by IBS Members

  • 2016: JABES 21: 470-491
    Raphaël Huser and Marc G. Genton
    ‘Non-Stationary Dependence Structures for Spatial Extremes’
  • 2017: JABES 22: 498-522
    Jenni Niku, David I. Warton, Francis K. C. Hui, Sara Taskinen
    ‘Generalized Linear Latent Variable Models for Multivariate Count and Biomass Data in Ecology’

Young Statistician Showcase Winners

  • Africa: Tilahun F. Asena (Ethiopia)
    ‘Modeling Evolution of HIV/AIDS Disease Progression: A Parametric Semi-Markov Model with Interval Censuring’
  • Asia/Australasia: Tea Kristiane E. Uggen (Australia)
    ‘Automated Classification of Post-Stroke Aphasia by Severity’
  • Europe: Yuejia Xu, (United Kingdom)
    ‘Cross-selection HIV Incidence Estimation Accounting for Heterogeneity across Communities’
  • North America: Virginia Fisher (United States of America)
    ‘Genetic Fine Mapping Incorporating Functional Annotation: A Random Effects Approach’
  • South America: Rafael de Andrade Moral (Brazil)
    ‘Conditional and Marginal Models for Analysing Light Interception Data’

Left: Xu Yuejia, Tea Kristiane E. Uggen, Tilahun F. Asena, Virginia Fisher and Rafael de Andrade Moral

Retiring editors: Biometrics, JABES and Biometric Bulletin

  • Marie Davidian, Biometrics Executive Editor, 2006-2017
  • Mike Daniels, Biometrics Co-editor, 2015-2017
  • Stijn Vansteelandt, Biometrics Co-editor, 2016-2018
  • Donna Paula Ankerst, Biometrics Book Review Editor, 2016-2018
  • Stephen Buckland, JABES Editor, 2016-2018
  • Havi Murad, Biometrics Bulletin Editor, 2016-2018

IBS Travel Award: A Post-Conference Report on Attending IBC2018

The IBS travel awards program is made available through the financial support of the International Biometric Society, IBS Regions, and individuals. This award assists IBS members from a Developing Country (DC) to attend an IBC. 

Each travel award has been asked to provide a report of their time during the IBC.  Over the next few issues of the Biometric Bulletin, you will be able to read their experiences. We hope you enjoy!

Abhik Ghosh, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, India

Firstly, I would like to thank International Biometric Society for providing me the opportunity to attend the 29th International Biometric Conference, during 8-13 July 2018, in Barcelona, Spain, through their travel support grant. Their generous travel funds had enabled me to participate in  such a great international conference and learn many new things through the great expert scientists attending the conference. Without their support to attend IBC2018, it would not be possible for me to gain this knowledge.

It is by far the largest and most interesting conference on Biometrics practice, that I have attended. It had so many parallel sessions with interesting talks that I had difficulty in choosing which to attend. I have learned a lot on the latest state-of-art research in the area of biometrics and its applications worldwide. As an applied statistician, it had motivated me to devote more time to solving biostatistical research problems and developing new statistical methods for  their  implementation in real life.

The paper that I submitted to the conference has been presented as a poster on 12th July, along with more than 200 other interesting posters. The topic of my poster was “Robust Wald-type tests under Random Censoring” with applications to clinical trial analyses, which had been jointly written with Prof. Ayanendranath Basu from Indian Statistical Institute, India, and Prof. Leandro Pardo from Complutense University of Madrid, Spain.  Academic researchers and experts in this domain, who attended the conference, liked my poster and gave me very useful suggestions that will improve my further research work.

I have met several great scientists during  conference and discussed several potential ideas on robust statistical methods and their applications in biological problems. It provided me with a valuable learning experience. For instance, it was an excellent opportunity to gather, interact and exchange their findings and views during conference sessions, coffee breaks and conference dinner.  In particular, I have found new prospective collaborators, having similar research interests, for the future progress of my academic career. One such collaboration started through email after the conference.

I have also attended one pre-conference course on the “Mediation analysis in R”, taught by great experts of the field: Theis Lange )University of Copenhagen, Denmark( and Stijn Vansteelandt )Ghent University, Belgium(. The speakers explained the topic so clear and intuitively. I also had the opportunity to discuss with the speakers a possible future research of mine.

It was also my first visit to Barcelona and I toured  this beautiful city on the free day of the conference, on Wednesday. In addition, the social events of the conference were very enjoyable, and I had lots of fun there and made many new friends. All the volunteers and IBO staffs were extremely helpful and friendly.

Overall, this conference was very interesting and enriched my experience with more information, knowledge and confidence. I am now eagerly looking forward to attend the next IBC meeting.

Izabela Oliveira, University of Lavras – UFLA, Lavras, Brazil

For me the XXIXth IBC meant days of intense learning under an atmosphere of sharing and exciting new ideas. As a young statistician and teacher, it was great to be aware of the new trends in the area and to reflect on the future of Statistics. In this sense, it is worth mentioning the opening talk by our president, Louise Ryan, who emphasized the importance of being and forming statisticians who are good at computing and data management. This talk led me to the first moment of reflection among several that emerged during the conference: how can I better develop this ability? How can I encourage my students to follow this path? How do I approach my projects so they are more multidisciplinary? How can I involve my colleagues in overcoming these new challenges we are facing in education? Many reflections, ideas and insights emerged throughout the week.

As it happens in large conferences, there were many sessions (invited and contributed) occurring simultaneously. I confess that many times I wanted to be present in two places at once. As this is still not possible, my track was based on my research interests (longitudinal and growth models, multilevel methods, categorical data) and on applications I have been working on (agriculture, environmental and forestry).

In addition to the session where I gave my oral presentation, another particularly interesting session for me was the one about Functions of variance components in mixed effects models: estimation, confidence intervals, hypothesis tests and boundary issues, which was closely related to the work I developed during my PhD. It was very nice to see that the theme is still open for new and interesting research and realize that I can still contribute in some way.

One topic worthy of mention in this edition of the IBC was the discussion on women’s contribution to Biometrics. In addition to honor some important women in our area whose names were assigned to the sessions rooms, we had a rich discussion on this theme at Thursday’s lunch. I am glad I participated and hope that moments like this happen frequently.

I also want to highlight the impeccable role of the organizing committee, giving support to the participants before and during the event. I was impressed with the punctuality and organization of all the sessions, which were very well conducted by their chairs. It was noticeable that the event was planned carefully and that all procedures were aligned among the organizing committee, chairs and IBO staff.

Finally, it was great to have the photos and follow the main moments of the conference via Twitter. I also liked the initiative to have events organized by and for Young Statisticians. Surely, I will take these and other ideas to the conferences promoted by my region (RBras).

I am grateful to IBS for the support through the Travel Award and I hope to meet you in Seoul.

Maria Sarah Nabaggala, Uganda

This year, I was chosen to receive a travel award to participate in the 29th International Biometric Conference (IBC), in Barcelona, Spain. Travel awards have been provided through the generous contributions of the IBS Regions, IBS, and individual members. On behalf of the Awards Fund Committee, I was awarded the sum of USD $3,000. I want to take this opportunity to thank the committee for the chance to attend this prestigious conference where I learned a lot.

The conference was a five-day event filled with a lot of activities, including short courses, meetings, oral presentations, poster presentations, ceremonies and a full day for touring the great Barcelona City.

The President of IBC (Louise Ryan) and Organizing president (Elizabeth Thompson) together with the local organizing committee welcomed all participants to the 29th IBC conference that was hosted by the Spanish Region (REsp) of IBS. They thanked the various committees that put together such a wonderful conference ensuring a socially and scientifically inviting program at an outstanding venue. They acknowledged that the committee had built the core of the scientific program by selecting 18 invited sessions from across many different areas of biometry, special sessions, 51 contributed sessions of oral presentations and poster sessions. In addition, short courses encompassing mediation analysis using R, multivariate dimension reduction for biological data integration, the analysis of interval-censored observations, network meta-analysis with R, and compositional data analysis were presented.

In addition, social events were incorporated in the program of the conference including, welcome reception, the gathering of Young Statisticians, excursions, and the gala dinner. All these provided a light moment for participants to meet and mingle.

For the first time the meeting acknowledged six pioneering women in Statistics from different countries and diverse biometric specialties including Susie Bayarri, Gertrude Mary Cox, Florence Nightingale, Helen Newton Turner, Laura Pla and Aleymma George. The meeting also acknowledged participation of researchers from different expertise and areas all around the world, form academia, research centers and laboratories, industries and governments and with remarkable participation of young researchers.

With this, the committees urged the participants to enjoy the conference and network as much as possible and maximize the benefits of the activities that were availed at the IBC. The conference kicked off with a lot to learn and I was torn between numbers of parallel sessions that were happening at the same time. Nonetheless, the meeting was event filled with many presentation that were very interesting and they helped increase my knowledge to different topics in statistics and biometry as a whole.

The conference had oral presentations on functional data analysis, advanced methods in survival analysis, multi state models methods and application, and recent developments in Time series, modelling and analysis of longitudinal data, advances in joint and regression modelling, recent topics in growth and longitudinal models, current trends in categorical models, predictive modeling in medical research, developments in casual inference, to mention but a few. In these particular sessions, I learned so much and I was triggered to a number of thoughts that I intend to apply at my work place to build my career better, all thanks to my attending the IBC. 

Also, thanks to the great organization of poster exhibition in-between sessions and the great  space I was able to learn a lot through reading the posters that were displayed for viewing.

I must say I was very grateful for the travel grant that enabled me gain all the knowledge that I acquired in such a short period. I am very grateful to the committee for this opportunity. During the conference I met with Professor Samuel Manda, who helped me clearly state my PhD problem. Thus, the meeting is very crucial for young statistician that are shaping their destiny, as they can meet there senior statisticians and possible mentors. I thank the IBC for the opportunity to travel to the conference since I benefitted a lot from the meeting and it will advance my career.

I learned a lot from attending the 29th IBC conference and I thank committee and sponsors for making this possible through the travel grant awarded to me. I also thank the conference participants that were very friendly and thus made my stay at the conference very exciting and informative. I thank the various Committees for their excellent work of and their contribution to making the conference a success. Looking forward to the next conference in 2020.

I am very grateful. Thank you.

Call for Photos

Share your IBC2018 photos with us! We want to see you, your professor or your students giving presentations, your favorite moments of photo booth frenzy during the Gala, and even photos during your excursion day off! Submit your photos and include a little description about each photo.

Submit photos to

By submitting your photos to the International Biometric Society (IBS), you are agreeing to allow the IBS to post your photos on the IBS website, use them in a future Biometric Bulletin newsletter, or post them through the Society’s various social media outlets.  The IBS also reserves the right to select and edit images that are submitted and posted.

Thank you to the Conference Sponsors 

30th International Biometric Conference

5-10 July 2020, Seoul, Korea


On behalf of the 30th International Biometric Conference (2020IBC) Local Organizing Committee and International Biometric Society Korean Region (IBS Korean Region), it is our greatest honor and pleasure to host the 2020 IBC in Seoul, Korea. International Biometric Conferences have been the most effective and prominent gathering of biometric professionals and having the Conference convened in Seoul would be particularly meaningful, to the extent that this highly acclaimed conference would change the face of bioscience in Korea and beyond in every way. Biosciences in Korea and Asia have been recognized as one of the most promising industries for growth (research field for better health and environment), yet there still is a lot of room for improvement.

The 2020 IBC Local Organizing Committee and IBS Korean Region will exert all efforts to design comprehensive and rewarding scientific programs and all participants will have various opportunities to strengthen professional networks and friendship with one another in and around the Conference

Seoul, the heart of the nation and the proposed venue city for the 2020 IBC, is a popular destination for international travelers and where tradition meets modernity in perfect harmony. Seoul also has been home to many exciting and outstanding international conferences and events in the past few decades. The City is safe and tourist-friendly and offers the warmest hospitality, the state-of-the-art conference and comfortable accommodation facilities, breathtaking sceneries, and appealing cuisines.

2020 IBC’s cultural and social programs will be organized for memories to cherish for life and there will also be many other opportunities to explore Seoul and Korea. The 202 IBC Local Organizing Committee and IBS Korean Region, in close association with central and local governments, industries, academic societies and institutions in Korea, assure the success of the 2020 IBC. We, therefore, would like to express my sincere enthusiasm to host the 2020 IBC in Seoul and gratitude for your kind consideration and support in advance.

Taerim Lee, LOC Chair

Louise M. Ryan, President of IBS

Taesung Park, LOC Co-Chair

Renato Assuncao, Program Chair

Meet your Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and your International Program Committee (IPC), here.

More to come in the future issues.


How Statisticians Are Embracing Digital Platforms and Social Media

By: Daria Steigman

More than three billion people across the planet use social media, and statistics from We Are Social reveal that combined we’ll spend more than one billion years online in 2018 alone. Nope, social media isn’t just for selfies and tweets about what we’re having for lunch.

Most usage statistics incorporate social networks from Facebook to Weibo to WhatsApp, and likely doesn’t even take into account the many collaborative platforms that form the basis for much of our professional time online. And more and more of us are spending at least a portion of our professional lives using digital tools, technology, and platforms to facilitate our work. And that includes statisticians and other data scientists.

Indeed, the use of online technology, including social media, is on the rise. Many statisticians are finding and building communities online, using digital tools to collaborate, build networks, reach a wider audience, and yes, even market themselves and their work.

Biometric Bulletin talked with four professionals in the field to learn more about how they are using online tech tools to support and grow their work: Hadley Wickham, chief scientist at RStudio; Hilary Parker, a data scientist at Stitch Fix; Amelia McNamara, assistant professor of computer and information sciences at the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul); and Tanya Cashorali, founder and CEO of TCB Analytics.

“Viewing social networking as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is limited,” says Hilary Parker. “There are a whole host of ways people connect with each other via the internet. And people are eager to hear from data scientists and statisticians.”

The Importance of Collaboration

Online platforms such as GitHub, Google Docs, and Slack allow for larger-scale collaboration, often enhancing the process and the outcome.

“Broad collaboration is one way my work differs from those in traditional statistics,” says Hadley Wickham, who counts on his GitHub community to identify edits and corrections on the second edition of his book (a work in progress). “The usual model involves close, long-term collaboration. Taking my work online allows for diffuse, often-fleeting interactions with a large number of strangers, who are also making pull requests.” Wickham added that this also enables him to have conversations in the request and talk about the code system.

Amelia McNamara also finds value in GitHub. “I use GitHub quite a bit for version control in my work,” says McNamara. While her dissertation is in a private space, most of her GitHub repositories are public. “It’s a lightweight way to share files and host your materials. Others can star the repository to see if I make changes. Then they can modify and use my work if they’re teaching a course. It feels more social to have things on that platform.”

Finding Your Community

Another platform that’s found a receptive audience with statisticians is Slack, a cloud-based collaborative tool where networking naturally takes place. Wickham finds it most effective for internal team communications, preferring it to chat or email.

McNamara, meanwhile, is a member of numerous Slack channels. “A community of scientists uses Slack, not because a university does it but because we’ve created communities and people continue to join.” Her selection of Slack channels provides a space to learn from peers, search for jobs, and talk openly about issues in technology. Her channels include Friendly Tech Space, a channel organized by Tanya Cashorali; and R Ladies, a global channel providing a place to discuss “off-line” the biases that exist for women and gender minorities in the R community.

Cashorali’s Slack community soon grew beyond Slack to include webinars, a newsletter, and in-person meet-ups. The newsletter is released quarterly and includes a listing of jobs posted to the Slack channel. In addition to Boston-based live events, informal gatherings featuring “lightning talks,” Cashorali also presents virtual “tech talks” using WebEx or GoToMeeting. Her advice: “There’s a whole world out there. Don’t be stuck in your small little fishbowl.”

Twitter, meanwhile, is the platform where serendipity can quickly turn to professional value. “I use it as a platform for connecting to my network of data scientists and statisticians,” says Wickham. “It’s valuable to listen and find out what’s going on and also to broadcast the stuff that I’m working on and get quick feedback. On Twitter I can do little polls, ‘Is this something you care about? Is this a problem or just me?’”

Amelia McNamara has turned tweets into opportunity. “I did an invited session at the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) because Jeff Leake at Johns Hopkins knew me from Twitter,” she told Biometric Bulletin. In addition, she does a lot of live tweeting of conferences, which brings her more followers and further expands her network.

“Many of the people whom I consider part of my professional network are people that I met on Twitter,” says McNamara. “We interacted casually, then built a deeper interaction, and then we’d meet in person and break the ice.” She adds that, because academic networks are very distributed (you only see people once or twice a year), this is a good way to keep connections and stay top of mind.

The Power of Podcasting

Hilary Parker is making use of another burgeoning media to expand her professional reach: podcasting. Her podcast, Not So Standard Deviations, is co-hosted by Roger Peng of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“The podcast grew out of my time in grad school at Hopkins, where Roger was a professor,” says Parker. “We’d have ‘tea time’ where we talked about the seminar the day before, and it became a fun discussion forum. He reached out to me in 2015 about starting a podcast, and I found it intriguing. We wanted to continue the intellectually stimulating conversations we’d been having.”

“The podcast is a place to discuss ideas that are about our discipline,” adds Parker. It’s also sparked new ideas and brought her a new audience. “I have one paper from an idea that came out of the podcast. And another that I gave as a keynote address. And I don’t think I would have gotten there without that ‘thinking’ time.”

Marketing Is Not a Dirty Word

All of this activity in one way or another is a form of marketing, a correlation many statisticians may once have been reluctant to embrace. But that’s clearly changing as the ways we communicate shift and grow.

The last word goes to Hadley Wickham, who stresses that marketing is neither a dirty word nor about taking low-quality work and packaging it up to look flashy and appealing.

“It doesn’t matter how awesome your work is if no one knows about it,” says Wickham. “If you want to have an impact in the world, you have to do good work, have a half-decent website, interact on social media, and tell people what you’re working on.”

Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics (JABES) Editor Report

My term as JABES editor comes to an end in December.  The new editor, who takes over from 1st January, is Dr Brian Reich, Associate Professor at North Carolina State University.  Coincidentally, Brian is also one of two Guest Editors for the next Special Issue, together with Dr Dorit Hammerling, a Project Scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research.  The Special Issue is on Climate and the Earth System, and will appear next year.

The June issue included the following papers:  “Combining Survey and Non-survey Data for Improved Sub-area Prediction Using a Multi-level Model” by Jae Kwang Kim, Zhonglei Wang, Zhengyuan Zhu and Nathan B. Cruze;  “Using a Bayesian Hierarchical Linear Mixing Model to Estimate Botanical Mixtures” by Napoleón Vargas Jurado, Kent M. Eskridge, Stephen D. Kachman and Ronald M. Lewis;  “Mixed-Effects Estimation in Dynamic Models of Plant Growth for the Assessment of Inter-individual Variability” by Charlotte Baey, Amélie Mathieu, Alexandra Jullien, Samis Trevezas and Paul-Henry Cournède;  “Longitudinal Concordance Correlation Function Based on Variance Components: An Application in Fruit Color Analysis”, by Thiago de Paula Oliveira, John Hinde and Silvio Sandoval Zocchi;  “Weighted Estimation of AMMI and GGE Models” by S. Hadasch, J. Forkman, W. A. Malik and H.P. Piepho;  “Spatial Variability in Slash Linear Modeling with Finite Second Moment” by R.S. Fagundes, M.A. Uribe-Opazo, M. Galea and L.P.C. Guedes;  and “Optimal Estimation Versus MCMC for CO2 Retrievals” by Jenny Brynjarsdottir, Jonathan Hobbs, Amy Braverman and Lukas Mandrake.

If you have a suggestion for a special issue, we would be pleased to hear from you.  We are also keen to publish papers that summarize the state of methodological development in subject areas for which technological advances are generating a demand for new statistical approaches.  If such papers also speculate on likely future developments, so much the better.  If you feel that you could offer such a paper, or can suggest a topic together with possible authors, please let me know.

For more information on upcoming issues, the editorial board, and the aim and scope of the journal, please visit our website We also accept submissions of books to review in the upcoming issues of JABES; to submit a book for review, please see the above website (click on “Editorial Board”) or contact Ken Newman (

Please follow us on Twitter:  @JabesEditor.
Steve Buckland
Editor in Chief


December 2018 Issue Highlights 

The December issue features articles across a broad spectrum of applications and methodology.  Included in the Biometric Methodology section are “Nonparametric estimation of transition probabilities for a general progressive multi-state model under cross-sectional sampling,” by Jacobo de Uña-Alvarez and Micha Mandel; “Bayesian nonparametric generative models for causal inference with missing at random covariates,” by Jason Roy, Kirsten J. Lum, Bret Zeldow, Jordan D. Dworkin, Vincent Lo Re III, and Michael J. Daniels; “Estimation of the optimal surrogate based on a randomized trial,” Brenda L. Price, Peter B. Gilbert, and Mark J. van der Laan; “Pseudo and conditional score approach to joint analysis of current count and current status data,” by Chi-Chung Wen and Yi-Hau Chen; “A powerful approach to the study of moderate effect modification in observational studies,” by Kwonsang Lee, Dylan S. Small, and Paul R. Rosenbaum; and “Optimal two-stage dynamic treatment regimes from a classification perspective with censored survival data,” by Rebecca Hager, Anastasios A. Tsiatis, and Marie Davidian.

The Biometric Practice section features a discussion paper, entitled “Time-dynamic profiling with application to hospital readmission among patients on dialysis,” by Jason P. Estes, Danh V. Nguyen, Yanjun Chen, Lorien S. Dalrymple, Connie M. Rhee, Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh, and Damla Senturk, with discussions by Sebastien Haneuse, José Zubizarreta, and Sharon-Lise T. Normand; by Els Goetghebeur; and by John D. Kalbfleisch and Kevin He. Further, the Biometric Practice section includes “Mean residual life regression with functional principal component analysis on longitudinal data for dynamic prediction,” by Xiao Lin, Tao Lu, Fangrong Yan, Ruosha Li, and Xuelin Huang; “On the analysis of discrete time competing risks data,” by Minjung Lee, Eric J. Feuer, and Jason P. Fine; “Multiple imputation of missing data in nested case-control and case-cohort studies,” by Ruth H. Keogh, Shaun R. Seaman, Jonathan W. Bartlett, and Angela M. Wood; and “Semi-parametric methods of handling missing data in mortal cohorts under non-ignorable missingness,” by Lan Wen and Shaun R. Seaman.

As a reminder, lists of papers to appear can be found at the Biometrics website.  Papers to appear in future issues may also be found under the “Early View” link at the Wiley-Blackwell website, which may be accessed by IBS members by visiting, selecting “Biometrics” from the drop-down menu at the “Publications” link at the top of the page, and accessing the “Click here” link.

This access program is soon to be supplemented with the so-called “Accepted Articles” feature, ensuring that the final, clean preprint version of a paper be made available, prior to copyediting, within 72 hours of acceptance. Apart from record-time dissemination, papers will immediately start receiving citations in this way. It will definitely increase their impact.

Editorial Board News

We warmly welcome twenty-nine new Associate Editors to the Editorial Board with terms beginning 1 July 2018 or later: Jan Beyersmann, Nicole Carlson, Honguan Cao, Jiguao Cao, Lin Chen, Qixuan Chen, James Dai, Peter Gilbert, Jelle Goeman, Brent Johnson, Tim Johnson, Antonio Linero, Lei Liu, Yanyuan Ma, Micha Mandel, Beatrijs Moerkerke, Karla Ordaz-Diaz, Layla Parast, Andy Royle, Ben Shaby, Bryan Shepherd, Rui Song, Lu Tiab, Shu Yang, Weixin Yao, Paul Yip, Shanshan Zhao, Yingqi Zhao, and Cory Zigler.

We also recognize sixteen Associate Editors who have retired from the Editorial Board in 2018: Genevera Allen, Per Kragh Andersen, Renato Asunçao, Jacobo de Uña-Alvarez, Charmaine Dean, Johannes Forkman, Thomas Gerds, Xuelin Huang, Gang Li, Jialing Li, Fabrizia Mealli, Bhramar Mukherjee, Jianxin Pan, Arvid Sjølander, Hulin Wu, and Menggang Yu.

The Editorial Board met twice over the summer, in keeping with custom in even numbered years. The first one took place on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 during the International Biometric Conference in Barcelona. The other meeting was held on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 during the Joint Statistical Meetings in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The meetings were attended by co-editors, associate editors, our Wiley contact person David Kim, and staff members from our International Business Office, including Executive Director Peter Doherty and Kristina Wolford.

Editorial Manager Transition

Chantal Brodie, based at Hasselt University Belgium, is taking over as Editorial Manager from Ann Hanhart, who has been based at the University of Texas at Arlington, USA.  Ann was recruited as Editorial Manager by Ray Carroll. She retired at the end of August 2018, after two decades of exemplary service. Chantal Brodie has started her term on July 16, 2018. The period of overlap allowed for a smooth transition. Everyone’s gratitude for Ann’s model service is tremendous, and at the same time we have great confidence that, after a seamless transition, the high-quality service to the journal’s peer review and publication processes will continue in the hands of Chantal. We are grateful to the Executive Board, the Editorial Advisory Committee, the International Business Office, and Wiley for their well appreciated assistance with the transition.

The Winners of the “2017 Best Paper in Biometrics by an IBS Member” Award Properly Honored at the Recent International Biometric Conference 2018. 

These Best Paper Awards for 2016 and 2017 were announced in previous Biometric Bulletin issues:

  • For 2016: Fang, Z., Kim, I., and Schaumont, P (2016). Flexible variable selection for recovering sparsity in nonadditive nonparametric models. Biometrics 72, 1155-1163.
  • For 2017: Hou, P., Tebbs, J., Bilder, C.R., and McMahan, C.S. (2017). Hierarchical group testing for multiple infections. Biometrics 73, 656-665.

Both papers were presented in a well-attended Biometrics Showcase session at the most recent International Biometric Conference in Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain. In addition, the author teams were formally recognized for their achievement during the IBC Awards Ceremony, traditionally held on the Tuesday evening of the conference.

Former Executive Editor, Marie
Davidian, made Honorary Life Member of the International Biometric Society.

To mark and honor Marie’s decades-long service to the International Biometric Society in general and to the journal Biometrics in particular, she received the Society’s highest honor from the hands of President Louise Ryan. Marie served during twelve years as Executive Editor, was Co-Editor before that, and served as member and chair of the Editorial Advisory Committee. She also served as Editorial Representative on the Executive Committee in the past. To top it off, Marie served a term as ENAR president.

Mathematical Riddle

Please send answers to The first five people to answer correctly will be mentioned in the next issue of the Biometric Bulletin. Please also email interesting riddles to be published in future issues.

STRengthening Analytical Thinking for Observational Studies (STRATOS):

Introducing the Topic Group on Selection of Variables and Functional Forms in Multivariable Analysis (TG2)

Aris Perperoglou1, Georg Heinze2, Willi Sauerbrei3 on behalf of STRATOS TG2

1 Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Essex, UK

2 Section for Clinical Biometrics, Center for Medical Statistics, Informatics and Intelligent Systems, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

3 Institute of Medical Biometry and Statistics, Faculty of Medicine and Medical Center – University of Freiburg, Germany

The Biometric Bulletin has recently introduced its readership to the STRATOS initiative and described the activities of the Topic Groups on Missing Data (TG1), Measurement Error (TG4) and on Initial Data Analysis (TG3). This series now continues with an introduction to TG2, dealing with selection of variables and functional forms in multivariable analysis.

The members of the Topic Group are Georg Heinze, Aris Perperoglou and Willi Sauerbrei (Joint Chairpersons), Michal Abrahamowicz, Heiko Becher, Harald Binder, Daniela Dunkler, Frank Harrell, Geraldine Rauch, Patrick Royston and Matthias Schmid.

In multivariable analysis, it is common to have a mix of binary, categorical (ordinal or nominal) and continuous variables, which may be related to  an outcome. While TG6: Evaluating Diagnostic Tests and Prediction Models focuses on the goal of predicting the outcome as accurately as possible, the main focus of TG2 is to identify explanatory variables and gain insight into their individual and joint relationship with the outcome.  Two of the (interrelated) main challenges are: (i) selection of variables for inclusion in a multivariable explanatory model, and (ii) choice of the functional forms for continuous variables (Harrell 2015, Sauerbrei et al. 2007)

(i) In practice, multivariable models are often built through a combination of

• a priori inclusion of well-established explanatory variables of the outcome of interest, and

• a posteriori selection of additional variables, based on data-dependent procedures and criteria such as statistical significance or goodness-of-fit measures.

Although there is a consensus that all of the many suggested model building strategies have weaknesses (Miller 2002), opinions on the relative advantages and disadvantages of particular strategies differ considerably.

(ii) The effects of continuous predictors are typically modeled by either categorization, which raises issues as the number of categories, cut-point values, implausibility of the resulting step-function relationships, local biases, power loss, or invalidity of inference in case of data-dependent cut-points (Royston and Sauerbrei 2008), or by using their original form assuming linear relationships with the outcome, or by performing a simple transformation (e.g. logarithmic or quadratic). Often, however, the reasons for choosing such conventional representation of continuous variables are not discussed, and the validity of the underlying assumptions is not assessed.

To address these limitations, statisticians have developed flexible modeling techniques based on various types of smoothers, including fractional polynomials (Royston and Altman 1994, Royston and Sauerbrei 2008) and several ‘flavours’ of splines, e.g., restricted regression splines (Harrell 2015), penalized regression splines (Wood 2006), smoothing splines (Hastie and Tibshirani 1990) and p-splines (Eilers and Marx 1996). For multivariable analysis, these smoothers have been incorporated in generalized additive models.

Many issues still exist for each of the following parts: (i) selection of variables, (ii) selection of functional forms for continuous variables and (iii) their combination. Practical guidance is urgently needed, necessitating extended investigations of analytical properties and systematic comparisons between alternative methods. TG2 has started several projects: (1) overview of key issues concerning variable and function selection (lead by Willi Sauerbrei),  (2) a primer review of spline based procedures and functions in R (lead by Aris Perperoglou), (3) review of TG2 relevant methods used in the clinical and epidemiological literature (lead by Michal Abrahamowicz). Slides of talks are available on the website and related papers are underway.   Already started or considered for the next year are the following projects:  (4) in depth comparison and evaluation of spline based procedures, (5) extend Heinze et al (2018)’s review on variable selection to a TG2 consensus paper about that topic. Two additional projects related to the educational part of TG2 are: (6) survey about teaching of TG2 issues to methodologists and (7) review of statistical series published in the medical literature, where we aim to support analysts with lower level of statistical knowledge (Level 1).  This work could potentially have a major impact, by guiding applied researchers to avoid common misconceptions about the appropriate use of modeling strategies (Heinze & Dunkler 2017).

Longer-term goals include evaluation of and evidence based recommendations for computationally intensive variable selection algorithms, which incorporate shrinkage and resampling techniques.  In this part, simulation studies, based on principles recently summarized by members of the Simulation Panel of the STRATOS initiative (Boulesteix et al 2018), will play a key role.  Several TG2 members are also active in this panel. Furthermore,   the study by Binder et al. (2013), comparing the multivariable fractional polynomial (MFP) approach with some multivariable splines based procedures, needs substantial extension.

To account for Complexities such as missing data, measurement errors, time-varying confounding, or issues specific to modeling continuous predictors in survival analyses (Abrahamowicz and MacKenzie 2006) requires close collaboration with other TGs. In particular, several research topics of TG2 overlap with issues in high dimensional data, leading to a close collaboration with TG9: High-dimensional data.


Abrahamowicz M and MacKenzie TA (2007) Joint estimation of time-dependent and non-linear effects of continuous covariates on survival. Stat Med 26: 392–408.

Binder H, Sauerbrei W, Royston P (2013) Comparison between splines and fractional polynomials for multivariable model building with continuous covariates: a simulation study with continuous response. Stat Med 32: 2262–2277.

Boulesteix A-L, Binder H, Abrahamowicz M, Sauerbrei W (2018) On the necessity and design of studies comparing statistical methods. Biometrical  Journal 60: 216–218.

Eilers PHC and Marx BD (1996) Flexible smoothing with B-splines and penalties. Statistical Science 11: 89-102.

Harrell FE (2015) Regression Modeling Strategies: With Applications to Linear Models, Logistic and Ordinal Regression, and Survival Analysis, 2nd edn. Springer International Publishing; Imprint; Springer: Cham.

Hastie T and Tibshirani R (1990) Generalized Additive Models. Chapman & Hall/CRC: New York.

Heinze G and Dunkler D (2017) Five myths about variable selection. Transplant 30: 6–10.

Heinze G, Wallisch C, Dunkler D (2018) Variable selection – A review and recommendations for the practicing statistician. Biometrical  Journal  60: 431-449

Miller A (2002) Subset Selection in Regression, 2nd edn. CRC Press: Hoboken.

Royston P and Altman DG (1994) Regression Using Fractional Polynomials of Continuous Covariates: Parsimonious Parametric Modelling. Applied Statistics 43: 429–467.

Royston P and Sauerbrei W (2008) Multivariable model-building: A pragmatic approach to regression analysis based on fractional polynomials for continuous variables. Wiley: Chichester.

Sauerbrei W, Royston P, Binder H (2007) Selection of important variables and determination of functional form for continuous predictors in multivariable model building. Stat Med 26: 5512–5528.

Wood SN (2017) Generalized Additive Models:  An Introduction with R, 2nd edn. CRC Press: Portland.

Region News

Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR)

The Jerusalem Joint Statistical event (including the 10th EMR conference)

On the dates December 17-20, 2018, the EMR will be running a statistical doubleheader: the Jerusalem Joint Statistical Event 2018. The event includes a one-day symposium in honor of the 70th birthday of Professor Yoav Benjamini of Tel Aviv University, followed by the 10th Conference of the EMR. Yoav Benjamini is one of the founding fathers of the false discovery rate (FDR) approach to multiple comparisons, which has emerged as a key tool in modern science. The symposium in his honor includes a strong lineup of invited speakers. The 10th EMR Conference, like the previous highly successful EMR conferences, also includes a strong lineup of invited speakers and will include a broad variety of topics in statistics and biostatistics. As with previous EMR conferences, Frontier Science Hellas is sponsoring three student awards in memory of Professor Steve Lagakos which will include up to 1000 euros towards the expenses of attending the conference. For more information, visit the conference website at The deadline for applying for the student awards and for submitting abstracts for contributed oral or poster presentation has now past and the organizers hope to post a preliminary conference program on the conference website in the near future.

A memory from IBC2018 Barcelona

EMR women in red on the red carpet at IBC2018 Reception Barcelona. From left to right: Urania Dafni (Greece), Malka Gorfine and Havi Murad (Israel).


French Region (RF)

In 2018, the French Region of the IBS “Société Française de Biométrie (SFB)” organized four scientific events, a competition for the best thesis “Daniel Schwartz Award” and elected a new president. 

Daniel Schwartz Award)

The SFB decided to pay tribute to Daniel Schwartz, a French biometrician who founded the SFB in 1949, by creating the “Daniel Schwartz Award” for the best thesis defended recently in the biometric field. Two referees from the SFB committee members were assigned to review each nomination. The award on the amount of 1000€ is given every two years. The final decision of the committee was to confer this award on Agnieszka Król for her thesis works entitled: “Prise en compte d’événements multiples pour analyser et prédire l’évolution d’un cancer  – Considering multiple events for the analysis and the prediction of cancer evolution”, supervised by Virginie Rondeau and Stefan Michiels (co-director) at ISPED, Bordeaux in 2016.

Scientitific events 

A session of the SFB was organized on May, 28 within the annual conference of “the French Statistical Society”, at the campus of EDF Lab, Paris-Saclay ( The invited speakers were Emmanuel Lesaffre (KU Leuven) who presented “Bayesian modeling of agreement in a complex data structure” and Pierre Gloaguen (Institut Français de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer) who presented “Questions and methods for the analysis of GPS data”.

The second young biometric researchers’ day “Journée des Jeunes Chercheurs en Biométrie” was held on May 29 at the Cnam (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers), Paris. This has been an opportunity to young biometric researchers to meet and to present their works to all (young and senior) participants. Ten contributed talks including the “Daniel Schwartz Award” winner were presented following the inaugural conference given by Geert Molenberghs (KU Leuven) on “hierarchical models with normal and conjugate random effects”.

A workshop celebrating the 70th birthday of Daniel Commenges has been organized at ISPED, University of Bordeaux 4-5 June. Daniel Commenges is an emeritus Research Director at Inserm and the founder of the Inserm’s Biostatistics team at the University of Bordeaux. He has constantly served the International Biometric Society during his career as Associate Editor of Biometrics  several years and as Editor of Biometrics from 2000 to 2003; he was also a member of the Council of the IBS for several years, and President of the French Biometric Region during these last 3 years. He has also been Associate Editor of other Journals: Journal de la SFdS, International Journal of Biostatistics, Statistics Surveys and Lifetime Data Analysis.

The SFB-GDR days organized jointly with the “GDR Statistique et Santé”, a research group in Statistics and Health 27-28 September at Nantes. The invited speakers are Raphael Porcher (University of Paris Descartes V), Vivian Viallon (International Agency for Research on Cancer, OMS), Sophie Ancelet (Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité) and Fabien Laroche (Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CNRS).

Election of a new president

At the general assembly for members of SFB, the annual report of memberships and the financial statement were presented by Pascal Wild, the treasurer of the SFB. A new president Mounia N. Hocine, biostatistician at the Cnam, was elected to succeed Daniel Commenges, the current president of the SFB since 2015.

More information can be found on our website

Agnieszka Król (in visioconference due to a cancelled flight), winner of the thesis award “Prix de thèse Daniel Schwartz” between Mounia Hocine (left) and Daniel Commenges (right), current and former presidents of the French Region, at the Journée des Jeunes Chercheurs en Biométrie, May 29, 2018.



70th birthday of Daniel Commenges at ISPED, University of Bordeaux 4-5 June.


Dinner at the 70th birthday of Daniel Commenges, Bordeaux 4-5 June.

German Region (DR)

Summer School “Bayes methods in clinical research” June, 20th – 22nd 2018 in Lambrecht/Pfalz (Germany)

Prior information regarding program and venue gave rise to high expectations, which were, as can be concluded a posteriori, fully met by the summer school “Bayes methods in clinical research”. Even the most confirmed Frequentists – if there still were any after the three days of summer school – shared this Bayesian view. The lecturers from the IMBI Heidelberg convincingly presented the advantages of including Bayesian thinking into the planning of clinical trials, and illustrated each lecture with the help of examples. Starting with an introduction to Bayesian statistics and Bayesian designs for dose-ranging in oncological phase I studies (Moritz Pohl), the whole spectrum of application of Bayesian approaches in clinical trials and drug development was addressed: Phase II studies (Kevin Kunzmann), go/no-go decisions after phase II and integrated planning of phase II/III programs (Meinhard Kieser), Bayesian decision theory with application to phase III (Johannes Krisam), and Bayesian evidence synthesis using either extrapolation (Katharina Hees), or meta-analyses (Katrin Jensen und Svenja Seide). Thanks to the organizational team (Birgit Schleweis and Andrea Wendel, IMBI Heidelberg). All participants enjoyed local specialties after the lectures. Paying tribute to the Palatinate motto “Weck, Worscht un Woi“ (bread, sausage and wine), the summer school was framed by a barbecue evening and a trip to the historic Hambach Castle with subsequent wine tasting. So it’s no surprise that plans were already made for next year’s summer school at the same venue.

Meinhard Kieser and Svenja Seide (both IMBI Heidelberg)

Instructors and participants of the Summer School “Bayes methods in clinical research” 4 June 2018 in Lambrecht/Pfalz (Germany)

International joint summer school 

The Austrian Statistical Society, and the German Region, and the Austrian-Swiss Region of IBS jointly organized a summer school “Fixed, Random, and Mixed Models” in Strobl am Wolfgangsee, Austria, 4th to 6th of July 2018. The instructors Annette Aigner (Hamburg), Ulrike Grittner (Berlin), Edgar Brunner (Göttingen) and Lorenz Uhlmann (Heidelberg) lectured and demonstrated application of the methodology. The event was quickly fully booked at 30 participants from academia and industry, and the lively exchange of ideas was again educating and stimulating, and fun.

Arne Bathke (Universität Salzburg)

Participants of the international joint summer school during practical training.

Joint Workshop in Regensburg

On March 8-9, 2018, the two IBS-DR working groups ‘Statistical Methods in Bioinformatics‘ and ‘Mathematical Models in Medicine’ have held their annual joint ‘Workshop on Computational Models in Biology and Medicine’. About 50 researchers participated in this workshop, which took place at the University of Regensburg. Invited keynote speakers were Carsten Marr (Helmoltz Centre Munich) and Nico Pfeifer (University of Tübingen). Carsten Marr gave a talk entitled ‘Quantifying cellular dynamics of stem cell decision’, Nico Pfeifer was speaking on the topic ‘Analyzing the interplay between HIV-1 and the immune system’. Additional talks and posters were presented on different topics from the area of mathematical modeling and statistical bioinformatics. The workshop was organized by the working group speakers (Klaus Jung, Hannover; Holger Fröhlich, Bonn; Markus Scholz, Leipzig; Ingmar Glauche, Dresden). Rainer Spang (Regensburg) supported the workshop as a local organizer.

Klaus Jung (TiHo Hannover)

Japanese Region (JR)

The 2018 Japanese Joint Statistical Meeting

The Japanese Joint Statistical Meeting was held on September 9th to 13th at Chuo University, Tokyo, Japan, being hosted by Japanese Federation of Statistical Science Association, which consists of six sponsoring organizations, including the Biometric Society of Japan (BSJ). Since many from other organizations attended this meeting, it was a good opportunity for BSJ members to communicate with researches from various fields other than biometrics. The BSJ organized two invited sessions, the Biometric Symposium and the Young Biostatisticians Award session. Recent substantial advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data science may have much impact on biometrics/biostatistics and vice versa. In the Biometric Symposium entitled “Toward efficient collaboration between biostatisticians and mathematical/data science researchers”, the BSJ invited researches in machine learning, social science, and mathematical statistics, to discuss possibilities toward fruitful collaborations beyond traditional biometric research. In the Young Biostatisticians Award session, the two winners of the Young Biostatisticians Award, conferred by the society, gave presentations on their research on statistical methods in cancer registry and Bayesian methods in clinical research.

Satoshi Hattori

Netherlands Region (ANed)

On June 1st the BMS-ANed organized its Spring Meeting celebrating the achievements in Biostatistics, particularly in the Netherlands. It confers every two years an award on the first author of the best Dutch biostatistics paper of the previous two years. The Hans van Houwelingen Award 2018 (previously Biometry Award) was conferred on Rianne Jacobs (RIVM) for the paper “Identifying the source of food-borne disease outbreaks: An application of Bayesian variable selection” in Statistical Methods in Statistical Research (2017). The jury consisting of Clelia di Serio (San Raffaele, Milan; Chair), Georg Heinze (Vienna) and Marta Blangiardo (UCL, London) were unanimous in their praise for the paper, stating that, besides all of its statistical qualities, it read like a detective novel.

Two of the Jury members gave talks: Clelia di Serio described how data science can be both a blessing and a call to arms for biostatisticians. Especially with changing measurement technologies over the course of longitudinal studies it is important to develop suitable statistical techniques to deal with such data. She described some intriguing research of involving the analysis of cell differentiation over a number of years in patients. Georg Heinze spoke about problems and solutions in prediction and explanation of rare events. In his talk he proposed a simple modification of Firth’s logistic regression resulting in unbiased predicted probabilities. While this method introduces a little bias in the regression coefficients, this is compensated by a decrease in their mean squared error. The final talk of the day was given by the past president of BMS-ANed, Jeanine Houwing. She now resides in Leeds and presented her work on functional data analysis in the case of Electronic Health Records.

During the Annual Membership Meeting, the BMS-ANed society could look back on a successful year, involving a number of events, one of its members, Hans van Houwelingen, being elected to Honorary Life Member of the IBS and many other activities involving the Register of Biostatisticians and PSDM. The meeting, that attracted about 60 participants, was concluded with drinks and many a good discussions.

Spring Meeting, “Celebrating Statistics”

Photo of Jury with Rianne Jacobs

Rianne Jacobs, winner of the Hans van Houwelingen Award 2018


Hans van Houweling, elected Honorary Life Member of the IBS

Western North American Region (WNAR)

2018 WNAR/IMS Meeting

The 2018 Annual Meeting of the WNAR/IMS was hosted at the University of Alberta from June 25-27 with over 100 participants.

Figure 1. University of Alberta Conference Centre

The meeting began with two short courses: “Statistical Challenges for Neuroimaging Data Analysis” presented by Linglong Kong from the University of Alberta and “Individual-level Transmission Process Modelling: Epidemics, Invasive Species and Beyond” presented by Rob Deardon from the University of Calgary. Ross Prentice from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center presented the WNAR Presidential Invited Address, “A Marginal Modeling Approach to the Analysis of Multivariable Failure Time Regression Data.”

The conference included seven invited sessions sponsored by WNAR, one invited session sponsored by IMS, six student paper competition oral sessions, and three contributed paper sessions.

Figure 2. Conference Participants enjoying the WNAR mixer

Figure 3. An unexpected fire alarm led to the conference needing to evacuate the building.

Figure 4. Ross Prentice giving the Presidential Invited Address.

WNAR thanks Adam Kashlak (University of Alberta) for his efforts as the Program Chair and Jei Jiang and Linglong Kong (both from University of Alberta) for their efforts as Local Organizers.

2018 WNAR/IMS Student Paper Competition 

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s student paper competition. The Most Outstanding Written Paper winners (tied) were Anu Mishra from the University of Washington for her paper “Weighted Recalibration for Improved Clinical Utility of Risk Scores” and Katherine Wilson from the University of Washington for her paper “Child Mortality Estimation Incorporating Birth History Data.” The Most Outstanding Oral Presentation winner was Phuong Vu from University of Washington for presentation “Probabilistic Predictive Principal Components Analysis for Spatially Misaligned and High-Dimensional Air Pollution Data with Missing Observations.” The Distinguished Oral Presentation winner was Kelsey Grinde from the University of Washington for her presentation “Controlling for Multiple Testing in Genome-Wide Admixture Mapping Studies. The students received their award at the conference banquet.

Figure 5. Conference Participants enjoying the WNAR mixer

We give a special thanks to the chair of the student paper competition, Jessica Minnier from Oregon Health Sciences University.  We also thank the team of student paper reviewers and judges for the students’ oral presentations and papers: Harold Bae from Oregon State University, Charlotte Gard from New Mexico State University, Katerina Kechris from University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus, Miguel Marino from Oregon Health Science University, and Byung Park from Oregon Health Sciences University.

2019 WNAR Student Paper Competition

WNAR sponsors students who enter the student paper competition. All WNAR-region entrants receive their registration fees and banquet dinner ticket for free. Monetary prizes will be awarded to the best papers in written and oral competitions. Information on the 2019 WNAR Student Paper Competition, registration information, and program details for the meeting will be posted as they become available: We look forward to seeing you there.

2019 WNAR/IMS meeting

The 2019 WNAR/IMS meeting will be in Portland, Oregon from June 23-26 hosted by Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is known for eco-friendliness with high walkability, parks, bridges and bicycle paths. It sits on the Willamette and Columbia rivers with a view of snow-capped Mount Hood. The local organizer is Byung Park (, and the program chair is Meike Niederhausen (  Details about the meeting will be posted on the WNAR web page as they become available. Following the WNAR/IMS meeting, there will be a satellite conference, Pacific Rim Cancer Biostatistics Conference, from June 27-28. Please contact Tomi Mori ( for questions relating to the Pacific Rim Cancer Biostatistics Conference.

Figure 6. Portland, Oregon

Megan Othus


Call for Nomination and Application for IBS Biometric Bulletin Editor

The Subcommittee of the IBS Committee on Communications is seeking candidates for Editor of the Biometric Bulletin. The term of office for Editor is three years (January 2019 – December 2021). We would like to make sure Regions have the opportunity to encourage members with relevant experience to put themselves forward. Please publicise this message, and encourage any suitable candidates in your Region to apply.  We also welcome nomination by Regional Officers and members.

Please note that the role of Editor is nowadays mainly one of content management, with the International Biometric Office (IBO) being responsible for technical editing, layout work, and publication. The Editor’s role is to develop the quarterly issues of the Biometric Bulletin as a vehicle for ensuring Society members are informed and involved. The Editor’s role is also to recruit ideas for future articles or improvements to the Bulletin.

Those interested in serving in this position should prepare a statement of experience relevant to the position, together with a statement on how they would like the Biometric Bulletin to develop under their editorship to Chair of the Subcommittee, KyungMann Kim ( by 1 November 2018.

More details of responsibilities for the position are available here.

Regional and Network IBS Meetings in 2019

Calling all Regions: The IBS Travel Awards Committee needs your help.

In 2019, the IBS is hoping to implement procedures to involve Regions more directly in the non-IBC-year travel awards program which brings members from developing countries (DC) to Regional or Network IBS meetings.

This program go off to a great start in 2015, funding 10 members from 10 countries to 6 different meetings in Europe, Africa, and Asia. In 2017, we did even better with 15 awards to members from 9 different countries to attend 8 different meetings. However, often the Regions were only very belatedly made aware of these members participating in their meetings.

Closer involvement of Regions would provide opportunities to establish longer-term connections that would benefit both awardees and Regions. We envisage a process in which applicants apply jointly to the Awards Fund Committee through IBO and to the hosting Region/Network.

First, we need information on your meetings! Please, if not already provided, submit dates and locations to the IBS meetings calendar as soon as possible.

Second, we welcome your input on how this might work for your Regional meetings.

  • Is your Region/Network interested in helping to bring DC members to your meetings?
    • Would you be willing to waive registration for DC travel fund awardees to your meeting?
    • Would you be able/willing to give additional support (e.g. local accommodation) for DC travel fund awardees to your meeting?
    • If so, for how many could/would you provide support?
  • Any other constraints/criteria? For example:
    • Would you have a particular focus for funding awardees – for example, some Regions/Networks contain DC countries within them.
    • To what extent would you with to be involved in the selection of travel awardees to your meetings.

Exactly how the process would work is still tentative, and 2019 will undoubtedly be a transition year, but together we hope to make possible continuing success and expansion of this important IBS program.

It is important to note that the IBS Awards Funds Committee handles only travel awards and is not in position to support the regions with funds to support organization of meetings.

Dan Kajungu, Chair, IBS Awards Funds Committee

Elizabeth Thompson, Outgoing President, IBS

IBS Journal Club

The Education Committee of the International Biometric Society (IBS) is excited to announce its next Journal Club discussion, centered on the following paper recently published in Biometrics:

‘Propensity score matching and subclassification in observational studies with multi-level treatments’

By, Shu Yang, Guido W. Imbens, Zhanglin Cui, Douglas E Faries and Zbigniew Kadziola

The Journal Club is open to all IBS members free of charge. The primary purpose of the Journal Club, apart from presenting worthy papers in a more public setting, is to widen the scope for understanding these papers and to provide a new networking opportunity for IBS members through a regular internet forum

The Journal Club will be held on 13 December 2018, 15:00 GMT / 10:00 AM EST. For additional information click here.

To register contact

The Journal Club takes place on a bi-monthly basis. All sessions are recorded and are available on the IBS website here, To access the recordings you must login to your IBS account.

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1-2 November 2018
2018 Program in Quantitative Genomics (PQG) Conference “Biobanks: Study Design and Data Analysis”
Harvard Medical School
Boston, MA, USA

22-23 November 2018
WS of DR, GMDS, DGEpi & DGSMP 2018 Autumn Workshop
Munich, Germany

22-23 November 2018
Pharmaceutical Research Visualization, Workshop of IBS-DR Working Group
Berlin, Germany

28 November 2018
BIR – Advances in Analysis of Count Data (and AGM)
London, England

29-30 November 2018
Edinburgh Clinical Trials Management Course (ECTMC 2018)
Edinburgh, Scotland

3-7 December 2018
Australasian Applied Statistics Conference
Rotorua, New Zealand

6-7 December 2018
IBS-DR Workshop “Bayesian methods in the development and assessment of new therapies”
Göttingen, Germany

17-20 December 2018
(EMR-IBS) Jerusalem Joint Statistical Event 2018
Jerusalem, Israel


3-6 February 2019
SASA – Correspondence Analysis and Related Methods 2019
Stellenbosch and Cape Town, South Africa

18-22 March 2019
DAGStat Conference 2019
Munich, Germany

18-22 March 2019
Biometric Colloquium (as part of DAGStat)
Munich, Germany

24 – 27 March
ENAR Spring Meeting
Philadelphia, PA, USA

3-8 June 2019
CoDaWork 2019
Terrassa, Spain

23-26 June
The 2019 WNAR/IMS meeting
Portland, Oregon, USA

10-12 July
Channel Network Conference
Rothamsted Research, England

27 July-1 August
2019 JSM Joint Statistical Meetins
Denver, Colorado, USA

18-23 August 2019
62nd ISI World Statistics Congress
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2-6 September 2019
Tenth International Workshop on Simulation and Statistics
Salzburg, Germany


6-8 January
International Conference on Health Policy
San Diego, California, USA

22-25 March
ENAR Spring Meeting
Nashville, TN, USA