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President’s Corner

Greetings from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I have been all week attending the World Statistics Congress (WSC) of the International Statistics Institute (ISI). For a change, it was quite a quick trip for me, “only” 12 hours from Sydney including a three hour stopover in Singapore. I’ve had a great time, attending lots of interesting sessions and meeting lots of interesting people. The WSC has quite a lot in common with our International Biometrics Conference (IBC) in the sense of being very diverse and international, as well as covering the gamut from theory and methods to application. One difference, of course, is that while IBC has a focus around applications in the

biosciences, WSC is much broader in its application areas. There is a strong thread related to official statistics and I have met people from the United Nations, as well as from various national statistical agencies. As I’ve told you in previous President’s Corners, the IBS enjoys a fruitful collaboration and partnership with the ISI. For example, our two Societies, together with the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the Royal Statistics Society, form the Foundation that supports the International Prize in Statistics. You can find more information at, but basically, this “Nobel prize in statistics” aims to recognize an individual statistician or team of statisticians for a piece of work that not only reflects powerful and original ideas, but which has had profound impact in other disciplines and on the world. The prize was awarded for the second time at this year’s WSC to Professor Bradley Efron for his work on the bootstrap.

The first prize had gone to Professor Sir David Cox for his work on the proportional hazards model. I think you will agree with me that these were both highly deserving recipients. Although Professor Efron could not accept the award in person for health reasons, his acceptance speech as well as his lecture were both delivered via such a professionally produced video that it was almost as good as having him here in person. One particularly special moment for me happened at the WSC opening ceremony where the International Statistical Prize was presented. This was when the five Presidents of the Societies that comprise the Prize Foundation were all up on the stage and each asked to say a few words of congratulations to Professor Efron.  All five Presidents were female! I was touched that Professor Efron alluded to the all-female cast in this acceptance speech. Here is a picture of the five of us, along with Susan Ellenberg who is current Chair of the Foundation and Jessica Utts who was also there representing the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and who also delivered the President’s Invited Keynote Lecture at the WSC. From left to right, the picture shows Karen Kafadar (President of the American Statistical Association), myself (President of the International Biometric Society), Deborah Ashby (President of the Royal Statistical Society), Helen MacGillivray (president of the International Statistical Institute), Susan Ellenberg, Jessica Utts and Susan Murphy (President of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics). Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it should always be this way! What we ideally strive for is diversity. But given history, it is indeed quite a special moment, showing just how far we have come, particularly as we look back to the founding days of our various societies, when with rare exception, all the leaders were male. I am pretty sure this all-female cast has never happened before, so it really was quite a powerful sensation to be standing up there and feeling this sense of female empowerment. Let’s hope it is not too long before we start to see other aspects of diversity emerging among our societies’ leadership. Looking back over the history of past presidents of the IBS, there has been excellent gender diversity in the past 30 years or so (exactly 7 of the 14 Presidents since 1990 have been female!). However, ethnic and regional diversity has been low, with all presidents coming from either North America, Europe or Australia and only one (C.R. Rao) being other of an ethnicity other than white, European descended. Let’s hope we start to see that changing in the next few years too.

I’ve mentioned in previous President’s Corner write-ups about how ISI and IBS have arrangement whereby we organize a special invited session at their WSC while they organize one at our IBC. I was delighted to attend our IBS organized session here at WSC. Two Australasian Region members, Dr Alison Kelly from the Qld Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at University of Queensland, Brisbane and Dr Ross Darnell from CSIRO Brisbane, had put together a fabulous session under the theme of “Food for our Future”. Dr Jane Hutton, British Irish Region, and our IBS Liason to the ISI had been the one who originally suggested a session on this general theme. It seemed a particularly fitting theme, given the origins of our discipline of Biometry in agricultural science applications, tarting with the work of R.A. Fisher in the 1920s. This session focused on advances in statistical technologies over the past decade, aimed at securing a reliable and sustainable source of food production for the future. Yohannes Fekadu, Research Biometrician, Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Elisabetta Carfagna, Professor of Statistics, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy; Petra Kuhnert, Research Statistician, Data61, CSIRO, Brisbane, Australia and Linda Young from the US Department of Agriculture served as Discussant. The topics spanned all scales of agricultural applications from the plant to production in the paddock to environmental policy. The first talk presented statistical technologies for genetic solutions to increase productivity that have built on the early work of Fisher as a quantitative geneticist. These technologies are currently being applied to modernise plant breeding programs in Ethiopia, through the biometry team at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. The second talk described geospatial survey methodology, and how this is used monitor the impact of agriculture on the environment as food production practices intensify to meet demands of future generations. This work is conducted from the University of Bologna, where Professor Carfagna has worked extensively with FAO, World Bank and Agricultural ministries across Africa and Asia. The final talk focused on challenges and limitations to food production and making management decisions in the face of uncertainty. Dr Petra Kuhnert presented a statistical toolbox of quantitative methods for modelling the impact of pests and disease on crops. She presented the intriguing notion of a model emulator which involves the use of statistical strategies to approximate a complex, computationally intensive process-based model. With her many years of experience in agricultural statistics and as Founding Editor of the Journal of Agricultural Biological and Environmental Statistics (JABES), Professor Linda Young was a thoughtful and insightful discussant. The other aspect of our ISI/IBS partnership is the WSC/IBC partnership where IBS contributes to two of our young members from Low- or Middle-Income Countries to attend WSC and ISI does the same for our IBC. Here’s a picture of me with one of our IBS Ambassadors to WSC, Serifat Folorunso from the Nigerian Region.

One thing I’ve been very impressed by here at WSC and with ISI in general is their effort to reach out to students and early career researchers. Dr Han-Ming (Hank) Wu from the Department of Statistics at the National Taipei University did a fabulous job organizing a young statistician’s workshop, which I attended on the Sunday before the WSC started. It was a great opportunity for networking and for talking about the challenges and opportunities in forging a successful career in statistics. I was honored to give a short keynote address at the workshop, talking about some of my own experience and giving a few “tips” for success! Here’s a picture:

Sitting at the WSC closing ceremony was touching experience, watching and listening as various awards were given out. I was excited to see Lizalise Mngcele called to the stage to receive a student award. You might recall that he was the young statistician I met when I attended the meetings of the South African Statistical Association last December. So clearly, I wasn’t the only one to be impressed by Lizalise! I met another young award winner, Ms. Edvira Malliedje Fokam. She received her masters degree in economic statistics from the National Institute of Applied Statistics and Economics in Cote d’Ivoire and now works for the Ministry of Economics in Cameroon.

Lizalise and I after the closing ceremonyEdvira showing her prize

Edvira showing her prize

The meeting closed with the traditional passing of the baton from the current ISI President, Helen MacGillivray to A. John Bailer who will now serve as President until 2021.

Getting back to more day-to-day IBS business, I was delighted by the recent IBS election for treasurer/ secretary. Professor Vicente Nuñez Anton from the University of the Basque Country was elected and will start his term on January 1st, 2020. While officially he doesn’t need to do anything until then, he has already started to join our weekly officer calls and has been actively engaging and helping with various tasks. As I told Vicente, in a semi-joking way, nobody really tells you how much work it is to be an IBS officer until after you are elected! The election was close, since we of course had the fabulous Jim Todd from the Tanzanian Region running as well. Jim will continue to stay active for now running the Journal Club. I am grateful to him for his willingness to run for office and for all he does for our Society. Sincere thanks to our immediate past president, Elizabeth Thompson, for her behind the scenes efforts to identify two outstanding candidates to run for the office.

Speaking of the hard work that many people devote to our Society, I am really grateful to our new Biometric Bulletin Editor, Professor Ajit Sahai, for all his efforts to make the Bulletin interesting and useful to our members. I particularly like his innovation of putting out some provocative comments in his “From the Editor” piece and inviting readers to respond. In reading his last set of comments, Basic Theme – II, I believe he is talking about some very foundational issues around uncertainty, especially when it comes to very rare events with high impact. History is full of periods of time where life settles into seemingly stable and predictable patterns. It is human nature to do an implicit empirical analysis and thereby expect that the stable, predictable trends will stay that way (in other words become a bit complacent!). But history is also full of occasions where unexpected events cause a shift in what’s normal or expected, eventually, perhaps settling into a new pattern of stability and predictability that will also last for a time before something else comes along to shake things up. Think, for example, of the industrial revolution and the cascade of changes that followed. Or think of some of the devastating terrorist attacks and other acts of violence that we’ve witnessed in the past decades. These all change of our expectation of what’s normal and expected. Of course, these events never happen completely out of the blue, and looking back, it is generally possible to see hints or trends that might have alerted the astute observer to the impending change. Think climate change for example. Our challenge as statisticians is to help interpret and find patterns in the data all around us so that we can be better equipped for decision making into an uncertain future. One of my current projects involves working with the Office of the Chief Scientist and Engineer for NSW, the state within which I live in Australia. Policy makers are routinely faced with the challenge of making decisions about resource usage and allocation in a world subject to many uncertainties and where there are typically many opposing viewpoints about what’s important. Statistics can be a very useful tool in helping to understand and quantify the various sources of uncertainty and also can help decision makers move forward i

n often complex settings. David Spiegelhalter, Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge University, is a major thought leader in the field of risk and uncertainty. I’ve been reading some of his scientific papers (e.g. his 2011 Science called Visualizing Uncertainty About the Future) as well as his more expository writings (for example a recent article in the Guardian Newspaper where he talks about the risk of getting hit on the head by a meteorite!). Communication is a central theme of David’s work and indeed that of the Winton Centre in general.

of Craig’s post on Twitter, pointing to the article which you can find here. Luv ya work Craig!Speaking of communication, I’d like to wrap up my President’s Corner this time with a quick pointer to an article in The Conversation,written by one of my former postdoctoral fellows, Dr Craig Anderson, now a Lecturer in Statistics at University of Glasgow. In addition to his day job of teaching and research, Craig enjoys writing about fun topics that help introduce and explain statistical thinking for a non-technical audience. His recent article is one of the best I’ve seen on the top of “coincidence” and how to think about it. He also does a really great job of explaining some fairly subtle statistical issues in an intuitive way that smart non-specialists should be able to easily understand. Here’s a screen

From the Editor

Periodic contributions from the regions and regular featured columns from the core group of IBS, with timely submissions, have been the strength of Biometric Bulletin. We are indeed grateful for the teamwork. This time, our President’s corner, besides being as interesting and informative as ever, has acknowledged and recognized “Basic theme –II” from the editor on the topic ‘probability vs possibility’ by responding and devoting a full paragraph making the issue clearer and its scope more vibrant. I personally feel more than satisfied with Professor Ryan’s considerations for seriously understanding and touching upon the depth of possibility of the rarest of the rare events in each sphere of life. We may once again request the readers to continue responding to Editor’s propositions on ‘basic themes’ as well submissions with contributions on ‘innovations’. It is to clarify further that responding to basic themes need not be one-time affair, rather debate must be considered open to continue as per our thoughts updated every day. Therefore, responses to even earlier basic themes would continue to be welcomed.

Basic Theme – III 

(Reader’s responses are invited)

To continue with our thinking derived from the philosophy that this whole universe is full of uncertainties, it is true in the case of variability also, whether two exactly similar subjects or even objects can exist in this universe? Each subject or object with its own updated identity is subject to change within itself every fraction of time in nano or pico seconds, apart from being distinguished to be quite different from other similar objects and subjects. If we are sensitive in making measurements, we must realize that we are not the same individuals today as we were yesterday. One’s own physiological, biochemical and anthropometric profile is continuously changing. Some are random fluctuations, while some permanent changes are part of the process of aging. Searching for any natural phenomena or characteristic that can be called a constant may not yield results but identifying a variety of variables and observing their behavior is everyday science. Whatever way we might define homogeneous groups or individuals, heterogeneity is bound to prevail at some level. Variability, like uncertainty once again can’t be eliminated but is potentially measurable. Indeed, measures of deviation and central tendency play a key role in all research. Though this universe is full of uncertainty and variability, a large set of experimental / biological observations tend to follow a Normal distribution. This unique behavior of data is the key to entire inferential statistics. Using the Gaussian distribution to derive numerical cut- points to differentiate between normal and abnormal observations or to define healthy and diseased is one of the most important role of statistics used by all sciences. To construct confidence intervals in understanding the behavior of variables in broader perspective is desirable.

It is useful to divide intra subject or object variability into three phases: natural phenomena are either in making/shaping phase or in the maintenance phase or otherwise in the deteriorating/declining/ destruction phase. Interventions in phase one tend to be more fruitful & effective due to nature’s healing/protective touch, though become weaker in phase two and gradually worse in phase three. So, if we talk of any human health intervention programs we must be clear whether we are dealing with children and youth, young adults or an aged population; that means three settings at three stages of life are entirely different even for the same individual. It is the same analogy applicable to all material things in this universe. Today many variables at a cross-section may not be capable of being measured beyond nominal or ordinal scale but tomorrow with advancements in science of measurement they may become eligible to be measured, if not by a ratio scale where absolute zero is known, at least by an interval scale. Most of the qualitative characteristics involved in experimentation either as independent or dependent variables, are measured in relative terms. Although a variety of scoring and grading systems were evolved considering weights to various facets and domains, we require extra intelligence to capture the play of relativity hidden in any experimentation or observation. Qualitative variables and factors like environmental pollution, happiness, pain, beauty, and pleasure do suffer from the limitations of relativity components involved in measurements. Though still more difficult is to understand the role of relativity hidden invariably in most of the scientific explanations, it is desirable to know the limitations and care needed in acquiring the scientific knowledge. Do we notice or feel that day and night we are riding a great spaceship called Earth, revolving around the Sun with a speed of approximately 105,600 Kms an hour or 30 Kms per second? But riding a motorbike with 100 Kms speed is exciting. The Sky looks blue, but it is neither blue nor in existence? Objects get magnified looking with an eye of an elephant? Many insects, bacteria and viruses live a short life but probably enjoy life with satisfaction in that short span as compared to 100 yrs of human life. By reasoning it can be seen that life and death co-exist and one owes its existence to other. The same is the case with pleasure and pain; good and bad; light and darkness; health and disease; rich and poor and so on. If either of the two are non-existent then the other will perish.

Response to the Editor

Basic Theme – II

In 2016 I had the opportunity to review the book “A Certain Uncertainty: Nature’s Random Ways” by M P. Silverman, 2014 published by Cambridge University Press, for the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. This is a very interesting book which teaches the application of not only probability but other statistical reasoning by using real life scenarios from stock market, sports and medicine to global climate change. As mentioned in the review, in this book each chapter introduces relevant statistical principles by giving interesting examples either from the real world or by using measurements from some experiment conducted in a laboratory. In this way, the author has discussed some controversial issues including those relating to sample size, p-values, selection of Bayes priors, and the relationship between maximum likelihood and maximum entropy. I personally think all statisticians should read this book and perhaps it will answer some of the questions or concerns raised by the Honorable Editor. One of the good examples to explain the editor’s query is to answer the question of whether climate change is there, or earth temperature is rising. There are two schools of thoughts here. One is the view of the climate change activist who analyses the data from 1870 onward (time since the records are kept) and shows that there is a significant trend in global warming. However, there is another school which thinks earth is billion-year-old and we don’t have data about the global warming before 19th century and this may be just a cycle. This cycle maybe 300-500 years and cycle will be over in a few centuries. Of course, paleobotanists are trying to answer these questions looking at the tree rings.

There are only two kinds of experiments: Random experiments where the outcome of the experiment is not certain and deterministic experiments where outcome of the experiment is certain (for example if we know the pressure P and the volume V, we can predict Temperature T, PV=T). However, in most of the real-life situations we deal with random experiments, and we always calculate the probability of the event in the context of random experiments only. I do not agree with the editor’s example, “the sun will rise tomorrow from the east is certain.” This is a universal truth rather than a random experiment, so we should not calculate the probability!

Kuldeep Kumar “A Certain Uncertainty: Nature’s Random Ways by Mark Silverman” Journal of The Royal Statistical Society, Series A, Volume 179, Issue 3, pp878-879, 2016.Professor Kuldeep Kumar, Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia. |Professional Biograph

International Biometric Society 30th International Biometric Conference

Save the Date

The 2020 International Biometric Conference (IBC 2020) will be held in Seoul, Korea from 5-10 July 2020.

The IBC 2020 will deliver an education program dedicated to the development and application of statistical and mathematical theory and methods in the biosciences with influence from experts in the field. will be your gateway to our program in Seoul. View the lineup of sessions, get to know expert speakers, learn about the venue and check out the special events we have in store! Additional information will be added as it becomes available.

Click here to add this event to your calendar.

Check out the selection of Short Course and Invited Sessions that have been selected:

IBC 2020 Short Course  |  IBC 2020 Invited Session

IBS 30th International Biometric Conference | Call for Contributed Papers

The International Biometric Society (IBS) invites abstracts for contributed oral and poster presentations for the 2020 International Biometric Conference (IBC 2020) to be held in Seoul, Korea from 5-10 July 2020.

Abstracts may be submitted online through 10 December 2019. Submissions from a broad range of topics and perspectives are encouraged. See this announcement for a complete list of methodological topics and application areas that will be covered during the conference.

All abstracts must be submitted online. Each abstract submission must include the title, list of authors and author affiliations, and abstract, with each submission having a maximum length of 2,500 characters. The number of oral abstract submissions with the same presenting author is limited to one. All submitted abstracts will be reviewed by the IBC 2020 International Program Committee and presenting authors will be informed of the status of their abstract (oral presentation, poster presentation, rejection) by February 2020.

All abstracts must be submitted no later than 10 December 2019. For complete details, please click here.

IBS Awards Update

IBC2018 Travel Awards – A post conference update

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 honoree 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!

Paulo Canas Rodrigues

It was such a marvelous experience to attend the 7th Channel Network Conference at Rothamsted Research, the world’s oldest agricultural research institute.

In the conference I gave a talk about genotype by environment interaction, QTL detection and crop growth models, had the chance to get some feedback and to have some interesting research discussions. It was great to see some long-time friends and colleagues, and to get to know new colleagues!

To visit Rothamsted was indeed in my list of places to go because of its long history and contribution to statistics. It was really amazing to visit Broadbalk, the oldest Long-Term Agricultural Experiment in the world (started in 1843), and the Sample Archives which include a collection of more than 300.000 samples of crops, soils and fertilizers.

But what amazed me the most was the Old Sample House Museum, where the calculators and computers used by the Rothamsted Statistics Department are displayed. In particular, the amazing Millionaire calculating machine used by Ronald Fisher and Frank Yates. I was so impressed by it that I dare to take a similar photo to one of the famous Fisher pictures.

I would like to thank the International Biometric Society for making this possible throughout the IBS Travel Awards. This was indeed a great experience!

Luis Fernando Grajales Hernandez

Secretary-Treasurer of the Central American & Caribbean Region of Biometry of IBS Thanks to the Travel Grant Award of IBS which allowed me to participate in The XVII Conferencia Española de Biometría and The VII Encuentro Iberoamericano de Biometría, 12-22 of June 2019, in Valencia, Spain. This was a nice experience. Members of several Regions presented good oral communications and posters: academic works and subjects were interesting. The Social part also was important I was able to meet some members from several Regions. Thank you. I proposed to Bogotá, Colombia, in order to hold the VIII Encuentro Iberoamericano de Biometría, in 2021.

Pictures taken on The XVIIth Conferencia Española de Biometría and The VIIth Encuentro Iberoamericano de Biometría. 12-22 June 2019, Valencia, Spain:

Professor Luis Fernando Grajales and some members of The Central American and Caribbean Region of Biometry (5 from Colombia, and 1 from Costa Rica).

Professors Luis Fernando Grajales and Raúl Macchiavelli (Central American and Caribbean Region).


Installation Ceremony, including to Klaus Langohr, President of Spanish Region, and Anabel Forte, Chief of the Organizing Committee.

Professor Luis Fernando Grajales.









Featured Article

Journal: Biostatistics & Epidemiology The official Journal Of International Biometric Society – Chinese Region

Biostatistics & Epidemiology is the official publication of the International Biometric Society – Chinese Region. The journal provides a platform for the dissemination of new statistical methods and the promotion of good analytical practices in biomedical investigation and epidemiology. The current Editor-in-Chief is Xiao-Hua (Andrew) Zhou, Boya Chair Professor and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics at Peking University. The editorial board consists of more than 30 Associate Editors all over the world. The journal has four main sections: Method and Theory; Applications; Software and Computing and Tutorials. Proposals for special issues are encouraged and should be discussed with the Editor-in-Chief.

For this year, the most-read paper is: “Multi-state models and missing covariate data: Expectation-maximization algorithm for livelihood estimation” written by Wenjie Lou, et al. In this paper, the authors proposed a type of expectation–maximization (EM) algorithm, which handles missingness within multiple binary covariates efficiently, for multi-state model applications. Our latest published article is “clinical data quality: a data life cycle perspective” written by Chunhua Weng. This paper aims to provide a life cycle perspective of clinical data quality issues along with recommendations for establishing appropriate expectations for research based on real-world clinical data and best practices for reusing clinical data as a secondary data source, which is a part of our upcoming special issue “Statistics and Analytics in Veteran Health Administration” as well. Another forthcoming special issue in Biostatistics & Epidemiology will focus on the latest developments on causal inference in biostatistics.

The creation of our new Journal would not have been possible without the support of the International Biometric Society and the International Biometric Society – Chinese Region. Finally, we would like to thank our associate editors and reviewers, whose hard work maintains the high quality of the Journal. Without those invaluable contributions, the journal would grind to a halt. If you are interested in our journal, please follow us on Weibo and Twitter – @BiostatsEpidem.

We look forward to receiving your submissions.


Editorial Updates


December 2019 Issue Highlights 

Editorial Update Biometrics December 2019 Issue Highlights The December issue features articles across a broad spectrum of applications and methodology. Included in the Biometric Methodology section are “Copula-based semiparametric mod-els for spatio-temporal data,” by Yanlin Tang, Huixia Judy Wang, Ying Sun, and Amanda S. Hering; “Multiclass Linear Discriminant Analysis with Ultrahigh-Dimensional Features,” by Yanming Li, Hyokyoung G. Hong, and Yi Li; “Using a surrogate marker for early testing of a treatment effect,” by Layla Parast, Tianxi Cai, and Lu Tian; “Fast Bayesian inference in large Gaussian graphical models,” by Gwenael G. R. Leday and Sylvia Richardson, “Integrative analy-sis of genetical genomics data incorporating network structures,” by Bin Gao, Xu Liu, Hongzhe Li, and Yuehua Cui; “Variance com-ponent tests of sparse multivariate mediation effects under com-posite null hypotheses,” by Yen-Tsung Huang; “Detection of differ-entially expressed genes in discrete single-cell RNA sequencing data using a hurdle model with correlated random effects,” by Michael Sekula, Jeremy Gaskins, and Susmita Datta; “Incorporating prior information with fused sparse group lasso: Application to prediction of clinical measures from neuroimages,” by Joanne C. Beer, Howard J. Aizenstein, Stewart J. Anderson, and Robert T. Krafty, “Multi-category individualized treatment regime using outcome weighted learning,” by Xinyang Huang, Yair Goldberg, and Jin Xu, “Semiparametric frailty models for zero-inflated event count data in the presence of Informative dropout,” by Guoqing Diao, Donglin Zeng, Kuolung Hu, and Joseph G. Ibrahim; “Constructing a confidence interval for the fraction who benefit from treatment, using Randomized trial data,” by Emily J. Huang, Ethan X. Fang, Daniel F. Hanley, and Michael Rosenblum; “Robust inference for the stepped wedge design,” by James P. Hughes, Patrick J. Heagerty, Fan Xia, and Yuqi Ren; “Semiparametric mixed-scale models using shared Bayesian forests,” by Antonio R. Linero, Debajyoti Sinha, and Stuart R. Lipsitz; “On null hypothe-ses in survival analysis,” by Mats Julius Stensrud, Kjetil Røysland, and Pål Christie Ryalen; “Integer-valued functional data analysis for measles forecasting,” by Daniel R. Kowal; and “Simulation-selection-extrapolation: estimation in high-dimensional errors-in-variables models,” by Linh Nghiem and Cornelis J. Potgieter.

The Biometric Practice section encompasses articles on “Open population maximum likelihood spatial capture-recapture,” by R. Glennie, D. L. Borchers, M. Murchie, B. J. Harmsen, and R. J. Foster; “Improved detection of epigenomic marks with mixed effects Hidden Markov Models,” by Pedro L. Baldoni, Naim U. Rashid, and Joseph G. Ibrahim; “Directional penalties for opti-mal matching in observational studies,” by Ruoqi Yu and Paul R. Rosenbaum; and “Quantifying personal exposure to air pollution from smartphone-based location data,” by F. Finazzi and L. Paci.

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 mem-bers 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.

Editorial Board News

We warmly welcome sixteen new Associate Editors to the Editorial Board with terms beginning 1 July 2019: Anabel Forte Deltell, Vanessa Didelez, Ying Guo, Jianhua Hu, Katja Ickstadt, Jian Kang, Katerina Kechris, Suprateek Kundu, Duncan Lee, Markus Pauly, Sofia Villar, Abdus Wahed, Yuanjia Wang, Xianyang Zhang, Xin (Henry) Zhang, and Yi-Hui Zhou.

We also recognize six Associate Editors who have retired from the Editorial Board in 2019: Veerabhadran Baladandayuthapani, Sudipto Banerjee, Pulak Ghosh, Martyn Plummer, Donatello Telesca, and Albert Vexler.

As mentioned in the previous Biometric Bulletin, the search committee to identify a successor for Co-Editor Malka Gorfine (EMR, 2017-2019) had identified Alan Welsh (Australasian, 2020-2022). Alan has gladly accepted, and we are delighted to report that this appointment was approved by the Executive Board.

There was a single Editorial Board over the summer, in keeping with custom in odd numbered years. The meeting was held on Tuesday, July 30, 2019 during the Joint Statistical Meetings in Denver, Colorado, USA. (Note that, in even num-bered years, there is a meeting during the IBC, in addition to during JSM.) The meetings were attended by co-editors, many associate editors, and our Wiley contact person Eric Piper.

Biometrics News

The journal’s impact factor has gone up from 1.524 in 2017 to 1.755 in 2018. Impact factors for the immedi-ately preceding years are typically released around June of the current year. The journal ranks 34/123 in the cat-egory “Statistics & Probability;” 44/87 in “Biology;” and 28/59 in “Mathematics & Computation.” All of these ranks are a slight improvement over the preceding year.

The journal has had a backlog of around 9-12 months for its print version for well over a decade. Thanks to a number of efforts, the backlog has decreased to roughly a quarter.

Find us on twitter at @Biometrics_ibs.

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

The September issue of JABES is ded-icated to a special issue on Climate and the Earth System. The special issue was organized by Dorit Hammerling and Brian Reich and features the work of partici-pants in the 2017-2018 The Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) Program on Mathematical and Statistical Methods for Climate and the Earth System. The articles cover an excit-ing and diverse set of application areas and range from careful applications of state-of-the-art methods to general contributions to statistical methodology.

The special issue is comprised of the fol-lowing papers: “A Case Study Competition Among Methods for Analyzing Large Spatial Data” by Matthew Heaton, Abhirup Datta, Andrew Finley, Reinhard Furrer, Joseph Guinness, Rajarshi Guhaniyogi, Florian Gerber, Robert Gramacy, Dorit Hammerling, Matthias Katzfuss, Finn Lindgren, Douglas Nychka, Furong Sun, Andrew Zammit-Mangion; “Improved Return Level Estimation via a Weighted Likelihood, Latent Spatial Extremes Model” by Joshua Hewitt, Miranda Fix, Jennifer Hoeting and Daniel Cooley; “Computer Model Calibration Based on Image Warping Metrics: An Application for Sea Ice Deformation” by Yawen Guan, Christian Sampson, J. Derek Tucker, Won Chang, Anirban Mondal, Murali Haran and Deborah Sulsky; “A Multivariate Global Spatiotemporal Stochastic Generator for Climate Ensembles” by Matthew Edwards, Stefano Castruccio and Dorit Hammerling; “New Exploratory Tools for Extremal Dependence: chi Networks and Annual Extremal Networks” by Whitney Huang, Daniel Cooley, Imme Ebert-Uphoff, Chen Chen and Snigdhansu Chatterjee; “A Parametric Approach to Unmixing Remote Sensing Crop Growth Signatures” by Colin Lewis-Beck, Zhengyuan Zhu, Anirban Mondal, Joon Jin Song, Jonathan Hobbs, Brian Hornbuckle and Jason Patton; “A Spliced Gamma-Generalized Pareto Model for Short-Term Extreme Wind Speed Probabilistic Forecasting” by Daniela Castro-Camilo, Raphaël Huser and Håvard Rue; “Efficient Reconstructions of Common Era Climate via Integrated Nested Laplace Approximations” by Luis Barboza, Julien Emile-Geay, Bo Li and Wan He.

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 web-site 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 (ken_newman@

Please follow us on Twitter: @JabesEditor.

Brian Reich
Editor in Chief

Software Corner

Jamovi – a decentralized statistical spreadsheet for the masses.

By: Jonathon Love

In this piece, I’d like to introduce jamovi, a free and open source statistical spread-sheet which is attractive, user-friendly and modern, but should still feel familiar to people who’ve used SPSS. If you want to quickly try it out (and I’d encourage you to), point your web-brows-er to and have a play around – but make sure you come back here to continue reading this article! (jamovi can be downloaded and used as a desktop application too – in fact, the web-based version is still heavily under development, so you’ll want to use the desktop version for the time being.) Some of our goals for the jamovi project, and I’ll talk about each of these in turn, are:

  • to provide free and open source alternatives to expensive proprietary software like SPSS, SAS, etc.
  • to provide a compelling and inviting statistical experience, such that students might actually want to study statistics
  • to bridge the graphical statistics community (SPSS et al. users) with the program-ming statistics community (R et al. users)
  • to decentralize the publishing of user-friendly statistical methods

Free and open; in science, I think we want to strive to be as open as possible – to make our discoveries available to everyone, and to invite everyone to take part. For this reason, I think we should strive to use free and open tools as much as possible and to remove the barriers of cost to participate in science. This may not be a huge barrier in the wealthier parts of the world, but there are many places where the cost of an SPSS license or simi-lar, represents a huge burden. So, the more free and open tools like jamovi we can adopt, the more open science becomes.

Compelling and inviting; it’s no secret that many students don’t like to learn statistics and based on a lot of the software we make them use, that’s perhaps not that surprising. But jamovi changes that. jamovi is used in over a hundred university programs around the world, and a consistent theme which comes through in feedback is that the students much prefer to work with jamovi than what they’ve used before. So, if you teach statistics, I’d encourage you to explore jamovi.

Bridge the graphical and program-ming communities; there tends to be this either/or divide in the practice of statistics. People tend to use something graphical, like SPSS, or a programming language, like R, and these two groups of people often struggle to work together. With jamovi, we’ve tried to bridge these two worlds. First up, we’ve provided a way for R programmers to develop and publish jamovi modules. These are special R packages which can also be driven from a user interface in jamovi, without the user needing to know how to code. Secondly, we’ve provided a ‘syntax mode’, a way for graphical statistics users to view the underlying R syntax of their analyses, allowing them to get a sense of how R syntax works. Finally, we’ve provided the Rj editor, a way for people to begin exploring writing R analyses without leaving the comfort of a spreadsheet. In these ways, we hope to bring the graphical and programming communities closer together.

Decentralize publishing of methods; I’ve touched on this already, but anyone can publish special R packages – jamovi modules – which make analyses writ-ten in R available with a graphical user interface. This is a great way to make advanced statistical methods available to a much broader audience. Some of the modules that are currently available are:

  • GAMLj: A suite of linear models, includ-ing general linear models, linear mixed models, and generalized linear models
  • jAMM: A suite for the estimation of medi-ation models (like the PROCESS macro)
  • jsq: A suite of Bayesian hypothesis test-ing methods
  • MAJOR: Meta-analysis
  • Walrus: ‘Robust’ statistical methods
  • and more

If you have some expertise with R, developing additional modules for jamovi is quite straight forward.

So that’s jamovi in a nutshell. If you haven’t taken a look at our online demo, I’d encourage you to do so. alternatively, head on over to our download page. We think you, your students, and your colleagues will really enjoy working with jamovi. See if we’re right.

STRengthening Analytical Thinking for Observational Studies (STRATOS): Introducing the Survival Analysis topic group (TG8)

Per Kragh Andersen1 Michal AbrahamowiczTerry M. Therneauon behalf of STRATOS TG8.

1Biostatistics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

3Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.

This article continues the series describ-ing the STRATOS initiative and its topic groups. In previous issues the topic groups: Missing Data (TG1), Measurement Error (TG4), Initial Data Analysis (TG3), Selection of Variables and Functional Forms in Multivariable Analysis (TG2), Causal infer-ence (TG7), High-dimensional Data (TG9), and Study Design (TG5) were presented. In this issue, we introduce the STRATOS Topic Group 8 (TG8): Survival Analysis, and we report on current activities and future plans. In the initial paper describing the STRATOS initiative (Sauerbrei et al., 2014), TGs 1-7 were presented, however, it soon became apparent that survival analy-sis poses a number of challenges for which guidance on several levels are warranted. This led to the formation of TG8 later in 2014 with Michal Abrahamowicz (McGill University, Canada) Terry Therneau (Mayo Clinic, USA), and Per Kragh Andersen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) as co-chairs. Further members of TG8 are: Richard Cook (University of Waterloo, Canada), Hans van Houwelingen (Leiden University, The Netherlands), Pierre Joly (University of Bordeaux, France), Torben Martinussen (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Maja Pohar Perme (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia), and Jeremy Taylor (University of Michigan, USA).

The aim of TG8 is to provide guidance for the way in which time-to-event data arising from observational studies are analyzed and on how results are interpreted. This is needed because survival analysis is one of the methodologies most frequently used in modern epidemiological studies of human health. Indeed, numerous health outcomes, such as disease occurrence, progression, relapse, cure, or death, are the end results of longitudinal evolution in the relevant biological parameters, or the effects of exposures and treatments that accumulate over time; hence a time-to-event paradigm provides a natural framework for their analyses. As a consequence, all statisticians working in a medical research environment are very likely to be involved in the applications of time-to-event analyses, even if their training and interests have focused on deferent areas of statistical research. On the other hand, the specific nature of time-to-event data requires addressing particular challenges, first of all related to censored observations but also to changes over time in the risk of the outcome and in the values of the predictors. Reviews (e.g., by Altman et al., 1995) have shown that many applications of survival analysis suffer from a number of shortcomings and this is in spite of the fact that several non-technical books and journal articles have described principles of analysis.

So far, most of our attention has been focused on a paper for statisticians giving guidance about the use of intensity models in observational studies with a time-toevent outcome. Since, in general multistate models, the intensity is the basic parameter this seems an obvious parameter to target. Focus in the paper is on a single occurrence of a single type of event, such as (cause-specific) death, onset/diagnosis of a disease, or first hospital re-admission. Recurrent themes are that hazard models known from survival analysis are applicable in such situations and that studies of this kind have a number of common features. These include, e.g., specification of the time axis for analysis, how to deal with incomplete observation in the form of right-censoring and delayed entry, and how to use and interpret models including time-dependent covariates. Also, the concept of immortal time bias is relevant in all such studies. We provide some check lists that we find useful to consider, however, it is important to emphasize that these check lists cannot be taken as `cookbooks’ on how to conduct time to event analysis in observational studies. Rather, they are meant as guidelines and we emphasize that the most important item to consider when planning such an analysis is to clearly specify the research question and think about to what extent the available data allow an answer to that question. We also identify research questions for which an intensity model only provides one step towards an answer and where further analyses are needed. These include risk prediction for non-fatal events and causal inference.

Finally, we present some worked examples using the methods summarized and going through the check lists provided. Further details concerning these examples are collected as Supplementary Material that also includes information on how the methods are conducted in R.

Even though the paper is not short, it fails to discuss a number of aspects that are also of importance. These include most mathematical details about properties of the methods, as well as analysis of data with competing risks, recurrent events, and more general multi-state models. We focus on the Cox regression model throughout (and to a lesser extent the piecewise exponential/` Poisson’ model) and discussion of AFT models, additive hazards models as well as random effects (`frailty’) models, e.g. joint models for the event intensity and an internal time-dependent covariate, is not included. Some of these may be topics for forthcoming papers from TG8.

Members of TG8 have had a number of telephone conference calls and (subgroups) have met in person at the ISCB conference in Utrecht (2015), at IBC meetings in Copenhagen (2017) and Barcelona (2018), and at the Lifetime Data Science Conference in Pittsburgh (2019). Finally, two meetings (2016 and 2019) at Banff International Research Station in Canada have been instrumental for our work.

Members of TG8 have given presentations on behalf of the topic group. Terry Therneau talked about “The STRATOS survival task group” at ISCB in Utrecht in 2015 and about “Survival models for observational studies: issues and recommendations” at ISCB in Melbourne 2018. Maja Pohar Perme talked about “On some practical issues in the analysis of survival data” at ISCB in Birmingham 2016. Michal Abrahamowicz talked about “Flexible modeling of non-linear and time-dependent effects of predictors in survival analysis” at IBC in Victoria 2016, about “Time-related complexities in the Biometric Bulletin 12 analyses of observational time-to-event studies of health: why do


Altman, D.G., De Stavola, B.L., Love, S.B., Stepniewska, K.A. (1995). Review of survival analyses published in cancer journals. Br. J. Cancer 72, 511-18.

Sauerbrei, W., Abrahamowicz, M., Altman, D.G., le Cessie, S., Carpenter, J. on behalf of the STRATOS initiative. (2014). STRengthening Analytical Thinking for Observational Studies: the STRATOS initiative. Statist. in Med. 33, 5413-5432.3

Region News

Australasian Region (AR)

Biometrics by the Botanic Gardens
Regional Conference, Adelaide, 1-6 December 2019

Make a note in your diary and book the first week in December for coming to Adelaide, South Australia. Short courses and workshops on a range of topics will be given on Sunday 1st Dec and Monday 2nd Dec, with the main conference running from Tuesday 3rd – Friday 6th Dec. Attuned to the interests of the regional membership, the conference will look at statistics research and applications in medicine and public health, agriculture and environment, genetics, natural sciences and education. Invited speakers include international and Australasian statisticians at various stages of their careers: Marti Anderson, Daniela Bustos- Korts, James Carpenter, Claudia Czado, Joanne De Faveri, Max Moldovan, Blair Robertson and Christopher Wikle.

Early bird registration closes: 19th September 2019.

More information is available on the conference website,

Save the Dates…

26-28 Nov 2019: New Zealand Statistical Association Conference, Dunedin, New Zealand,

1-6 Dec 2019: IBS-AR Regional Conference, Adelaide, Australia,

30 Nov-4 Dec 2020: Australasian Applied Statistics Conference 2020, Victoria, Australia

IBS-AR Student Scholarships
To help attract enthusiastic and talented students to career paths in biometrics, the Australasian Region offers scholarships for suitably qualified students who intend to undertake a fourth or honours year of study, or a coursework Masters, in statistics, mathematical statistics, biostatistics, bioinformatics or biometrics. We are delighted to announce the winners of this year’s highly contested award: Anna Greenwood (masters in biostatistics at the University of Melbourne) and Harriet Plant (honours student at the University of Auckland). Congratulations!

Biography – Anna Greenwood

I was born in Poland and from a young age I have always had a passion for problem solving and mathematics. When choosing my university degree, I was torn between studying medicine or mathematics and the mathematics won. I completed my undergraduate degree with honours in mathematics at the University of Melbourne focusing on statistics and stochastic processes. Since graduating I have worked for the last 10 years in the finance industry applying problem solving, statistical and computing skills to manage risks and produce analysis to improve the way the business operates and build my management and business skills. Whilst the finance industry offers challenging problems in itself, going forward, I would like to use my skills in the field of medical research where I see many opportunities to be able to enhance people’s quality of life, if only even in a small way, through the use of the enormous amounts of health data we are accumulating. I feel particularly passionate about researching food related intolerance and links between gut health and overall health and well-being, having been exposed to some of these impacts with my children. This year I have embarked on the start of my masters in biostatistics at the University of Melbourne, which I hope will be just the beginning of my future in this field. I also look forward to meeting many of the wonderful people making a difference in this field already.

Anna Greenwood, IBS-AR Student Scholarship recipient.

Biography – Harriet Plant

Harriet is currently working towards a BSc (Hons) in Statistics at the University of Auckland. She completed her BSc in Statistics at Victoria University of Wellington in 2018 and decided to pursue a specialisation in her main interest: Medical Statistics. After her studies, she hopes to work either in clinical trial analysis or in public health.

Over the past summer, she completed a summer research internship with the New Zealand Police, reviewing a programme to prevent drunk-driving recidivism. On this project she learned a lot about working on a multidisciplinary team and communicating statistical ideas to non-statisticians. Through several years of tutoring both high school and university students in Statistics, she has also grown passionate about the importance of statistical literacy.

Harriet’s current research project is based around the secondary analysis of the results of an SMS-based system for self-management of diabetes, working under the primary supervision of Dr Yannan Jiang. The aim of the project is to determine which characteristics of the programme contributed to its success, and which participants it was most effective for.

Harriet Plant, IBS-AR Student Scholarship recipient.

Remembering Ken Russell

It is with immense sadness that we report our colleague and friend Ken Russell passed away peacefully in Wollongong on 16 July after suffering from cancer, in his 69th year. After 40 years with a (New Zealand) kidney transplant and attendant immune-suppressant drugs, his body finally gave up the fight. Ken is survived by his wife Janet, and brothers Colin and Ian.

Ken joined the Australasian branch of the International Biometric Society in 1978 and served as our president from 1999-2000 and as our representative on the IBS Council (now the Representative Council) from 2002-2005. Ken was a great supporter of IBS-AR, and we will remember him most fondly.

Ken Russell (seated second from the right) pictured with 9 other former IBS-AR presidents at the 2015 regional conference in Hobart. From lower left: Jeff Wood (1982- 1983), Peter Johnstone (2001-02), Kaye Basford (1997-98), Ken Russell (1999-00), Ann Cowling (2005- 06), Melissa Dobbie (2007-08), Graham Hepworth (2009-10), Mario D’Antuono (2011- 12), David Baird (2013-14), Ross Darnell (2015-16).

Novi Younger 

British and Irish Region (BIR)

7th Channel Network Conference, Rothamsted UK, 10-12 July

Sunshine greeted around 120 delegates to the 2019 7th Channel Network Conference, a biennial conference hosted jointly by the British-Irish, France, Belgium and Netherlands regions of the IBS [photograph 1]. This year, the conference took place at Rothamsted Research, the longest running agricultural research institute in the world and coincided with the centenary celebrations of RA Fisher’s appointment in 1919 to the institute.

The conference was a resounding success with attendees from more than 65 organisations varying from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, to the University of Washington in the US and onto the University of Wollongong, Australia.

Per Andersen from the University of Copenhagen gave the keynote lecture on Multi-State Models in Medical Research. Topics of the conference covered all interests of the IBS ranging from methods development in the ‘omics to design of experiments. Invited sessions were organised around the topics of Intensive Longitudinal Data, Post-selection Inference in Regression, Complex Survival Data and a special session was organised on the past, present and future of statistics in agriculture.

A particular highlight was the 38th Fisher Memorial Lecture, given by Brian Cullis and Alison Smith on their work in the development of Design Tableau, thus closing the conference.

Of course, no conference is complete without some socialising networking, and particularly popular activity involved 60 statisticians loaded onto the back of a tractor-pulled trailer and taken on a tour of the oldest and newest long-term field experiments [photograph 2].

Presentations and posters will be available to download in due course – keep an eye out!

Young Biometrician Award 2019

The British and Irish Region of the International Biometric Society, jointly with the Fisher Memorial Trust, award a prize every two years for young biometricians who are members of the British and Irish Region of the International Biometric Society. The award recognises the research of one paper published, or accepted for publication, in a refereed journal. This winner receives a diploma and a prize of £1000.

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2019 Young Biometrician Award is Sean Yiu for the paper “Covariate association eliminating weights: a unified weighting framework for causal effect estimation” (Biometrika 2018; 105, 709-722). Dr Yiu gave an excellent presentation on the topic of his paper at the Channel Network Conference and the prize was presented at the conference dinner.

The panel also gave honourable mention to Sara Wade for the paper “A Bayesian nonparametric regression model with normalized weights: a study of hippocampal atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease” (Journal of the American Statistical Association 2014; 109, 477-490) and to Ming Zhou for the paper “Removal models accounting for temporary emigration” (Biometrics 2019; 75, 24-35).

The papers from the awardees covered methodology for causal inference, Bayesian nonparametric regression, and multi-event removal models, with applications in the autoimmune disease Lupus, Alzheimer’s disease, and animal migration

Workshop on Geostatistical Methods for Disease Mapping

We are delighted to report that the “Workshop on Geostatistical Methods for Disease Mapping” organised and delivered by Emanuele Giorgi and Peter Diggle at Lancaster University (June 2019) has been a great success!

The workshop brought together 28 early-career researchers in statistics and epidemiology from across the UK [photograph 3]. During the first two days, the participants learned how to carry out a geostatistical analysis, from exploratory to spatial prediction and visualization of uncertainty, using the PrevMap R package.

The third day of the workshop also gave the participants the opportunity to discuss their research challenges, some of which were solved on the day thanks to the newly learnt statistical techniques.

Based on the received feedback forms, all of the participants found the workshop to be highly accessible and with high quality teaching. Emanuele and Peter are strongly motivated to turn this into a yearly event and are happy to announce that will give one-day version of this workshop as a short course for IBC2020 in Seoul!

Delegates at the 2019 7th Channel Network Conference, Rothamsted UK, 10-12 July

Channel Network Conference delegates enjoy a tour of agricultural field experiments at Rothamsted Research, UK

Researchers attending the Workshop on Geostatistical Methods for Disease Mapping, Lancaster University, UK

Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR)

The annual conference of the Greek Statistical Institute was held in the beautiful city of Ioannina from May 30th to June 1st: while the 5th Meeting on Statistics will take place in the island of Aegina (near Athens), September 6-8, 2019

Eastern North American Region (ENAR)


Be sure to check the ENAR Webinar website for updates regarding the upcoming WebENAR series, as well as for links to past WebENARs and their recordings:

2019 JSM, 27 July-1 August, Denver, CO, USA

The 2019 JSM was held at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO from 27 July – 1 August. The theme of the 2019 meeting was “Statistics: Making an Impact.” This year’s program included 11 invited sessions primarily sponsored by ENAR, covering topics about causal inference in failure time settings, novel clinical trial design and analysis for precision medicine, microbiome data science, early phase trials, statistics education, inference and decision-making in population health, risk prediction evaluation, spatio-temporal statistics, risk stratified prevention, cancer etiology and early detection, and multi-sensor mobile technology for monitoring health behaviors. An additional 4 topic-contributed paper, 4 contributed paper, 1 contributed SPEED poster, and 1 contributed poster session primarily sponsored by ENAR included presentations on large healthcare databases, integrating disparate data sources, massive neuronal datasets, machine learning, clinical trials, and Bayesian methods. ENAR received many proposals for invited and topic-contributed sessions and thanks everyone who put forth an idea. ENAR extends a huge thank you to Michael Rosenblum of Johns Hopkins University for serving on the Program Committee for the 2019 JSM.

2020 ENAR Spring Meeting, 22-25 March, Nashville, TN, USA

The 2020 ENAR Spring Meeting will take place in Nashville, Tennessee at the newly opened JW Marriott Nashville. Submissions to the student paper competition are due earlier this year on 1 October, and all other contributed oral and poster presentation submissions are due 15 October. ENAR would like to thank Program Chair Juned Siddique (siddique@north- 15 Biometric Bulletin, Associate Chair Chenguang Wang, and the Local Arrangements Chair will be Cindy Chen for their hard work in planning the ENAR Spring Meeting. More details may be found at:

2020 JSM, 27 July-1 August, Philadelphia, PA, USA

The 2020 Joint Statistical Meetings will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA from 1-6 August 2020. ENAR is fortunate to have Jeremy Gaskins of the University of Louisville (jeremy. be our representative to the Program Committee. ENAR members may contact Jeremy with any ideas or questions. The theme for the 2020 meeting is “Everyone Counts: Data for the Public Good.” Proposal submissions will be accepted online until 5 September, following instructions detailed at

2021 ENAR Spring Meeting, 14-17 March, Baltimore, MD, USA

The 2021 ENAR Spring Meeting will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, USA from 14 to 17 March 2021 at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.

French Region (RF)

A new website of the Société Française de Biométrie (SFB – French Region of the IBS) has been designed by Boris Hejblum: our new address is

In 2019, different scientific events were organized or supported by the SFB:

  • During the annual Journées de Statistique in Nancy, the SFB organized (6th of June) a session dedicated to biometry with two invited speakers: Samuel Soubeyrand (Estimation de liens épidémiologiques par apprentissage statistique sur données génomiques) and Grégory NUEL (Réseaux bayésiens et analyse de survie pour la modélisation de maladies génétiques dépendant de l’âge).
  • The SFB supported EPICLIN, the 13th Francophone Conference of Clinical Epidemiology (EPICLIN) and the 26th Days of Statisticians of the Cancer Control Centre (PBC) co-organized by the CHU of Toulouse and the Institut Claudius Regaud from 15 to 17 May 2019 in Toulouse. The theme of these joint days was “Clinical Research in the Era of 4P Medicine (Preventive, Personalized, Predictive, Participatory)”.

In 2020, the Journées des Jeunes Chercheurs en Biométrie (young researcher days in biometry) will be held. At this occasion, the Daniel Schwartz Prize for the best thesis defended recently in the biometric field will be awarded. Information will be soon on our new website.

SFB and the group biopharmarcie & santé of the SFdS (French Statistical Society) joined the GDR Statistiques et santé (Research Group Statistics and Health) to organise a yearly joint conference. The next meeting will take place at CNAM (Centre National des Arts et Métiers) in Paris, from 10 to 11 October 2019. First invited speakers are Clémence Leyrat (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom), Antoine Chambaz (Université Paris Descartes), Niel Hens (Université d’Antwerp, Pays-Bas), Catherine Mattias (Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Université Paris Diderot).

After the 7th Channel Network conference dedicated to A. Fisher at Rothamsted from 10 – 12 of July 2019, the CNAM (Centre National des Arts et Métiers) is happy to host in Paris the next Channel Network Conference in April 2021.

German Region (DR)

Adaptive Designs and Multiple Testing Procedures

On 08-10 May 2019, the annual workshop of the joint working group on “Adaptive Designs and Multiple Testing Procedures” of the German and Austro-Swiss Regions of the International Biometric Society took place in Münster; organized by the Institute of Biostatistics and Clinical Research of the Medical Faculty of the University of Münster. Around 50 participants could be welcomed. The workshop has become one of the traditional venues of the European researchers on Adaptive Designs and Multiple Testing. It provides the opportunity to present, discuss, and learn the latest developments, applications, and case studies in these research areas and to meet colleagues from academia, industry, and regulatory agencies that are interested in these fields.

This year’s workshop was themed Adaptive Design in Individualized Therapy. The scientific program comprised around 20 contributions with speakers from the regions of the working group as well as from the United Kingdom. The workshop started on Wednesday with sessions on Research in Progress. These sessions were especially devoted to young scientist and offered the opportunity to present and discuss new research ideas in front of an expert audience. Next to the regular sessions, a topic-contributed session on Adaptive Design in Individualized Therapy took place on Thursday. Here, selected results of an eponymous research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) were presented.

A special highlight of the workshop was an honorary session on the occasion of Gerhard Hommel’s 75th birthday. Guest speakers for this honorary session were Peter Bauer (Medical University of Vienna), Frank Bretz (Novartis Pharma AG, Basel/Switzerland) and Andreas Faldum (University of Münster). The honorary session was complemented with a Conference Dinner in the backyards of the Palace of Münster.

The workshop proceeded in a friendly and constructive atmosphere. The Working Group again says “Thank you” to all participants!

For abstracts and details on the upcoming workshop in 2020 please see: adaptive-designs-multiple-testing-procedures.html

For the working group and the local organizers: René Schmidt

Agricultural Experiments The working group „Agricultural Experiments“ had its summer meeting at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) in Gatersleben on 27.-28. June 2019. Thirty participants could be welcomed. The agenda of the first day was: E. Gladilin (IPK): Problems of image analysis in plant phenotyping; K. Bort, E. Haese, H.-P. Piepho, J. Hartung (University Hohenheim): Two-phase experiments – Experimental design for the lab?; J. Hartung, A. Büchse, H.-P. Piepho (University Hohenheim, BASF): Efficiency comparison of models for regional variety recommendations; D. Wittenburg (FBN Dummerstorf): Experimental design for genomic trials: Calculation of power and sample sizes; A. Tuchscherer (FBN Dummerstorf): The P(roblem) value – some remarks on the problem discussion; P. Lancashire, Y. Li (Bayer AG): CV values from historical trials as a quality measure: a tool.

On the second day Astrid Junker (IPK) showed us the plant phenotyping platforms which are run in sophisticated controlled environment facilities and the plant cultivation hall for simulating current and future field conditions. Peter Schreiber (IPK) explained the experimental fields for reproduction cultivation of gene bank seeds (photo). Gene bank’s mandate covers the conservation of its germplasm collection and the supply of seed for both research and breeding purposes.

Armin Tuchscherer

Researchers attending the Workshop on Geostatistical Methods for Disease Mapping, Lancaster University, UK

51st meeting of the working group “Statistical Computing”

This annual workshop was attended by 45 mostly young participants at Reisensburg castle on June 30 to July 1, 2019. They heared plenary and invited talks:

Joachim Buhmann (Zürich): Can I believe what I see? – Information theoretic algorithm validation,

Christiane Fuchs (Bielefeld): Tackling leukemia through computational statistics,

Annika Hoyer (Düsseldorf): A bivariate time-to-event model Biometric Bulletin for the meta-analysis of full ROC curves,

Nadja Klein (Berlin): A Novel Spike-and-Slab Prior for Effect Selection in Distributional Regression Models,

and a hands-on tutorial by Erin LeDell (H2O, California): Automatic Machine Learning with H2O,

and most participants spoke for 20 minutes themselves.

Andreas Mayr

Participants in Statistical Computing at Reisensburg 2019

Special issue on ethics committees

As soon as methodologic expertise was required by law in medical ethics committees deliberating on clinical trials, members of the working group Ethics and Responsibility formed a joint action group with members of GMDS. Iris Pigeot and Geraldine Rauch organized a special issue of the Bundesgesundheitsblatt (Vol. 62, issue 6) on ethics committees. The majority of the 12 articles had biostatisticians as (co-)authors.

Reinhard Vonthein

Upcoming Events (already in the online Meetings Calendar)

October 17-19, 2019, Summer school “Group sequential and adaptive adaptive Methods” in Lambrecht,

October 28-29, 2019, Academy meets Industry in Ingelheim,

November 21-22, 2019, “Causal Inference & Estimands“ in Hamburg,

November 29, 2019, Real World Evidence Pharmaceutical Research in Ludwigshafen

Japanese Region (JR)

The 2019 WNAR/IMS/JR Annual Meeting

The 2019 WNAR/IMS/JR Annual Meeting hosted by the Oregon Health & Science University was held on June 23-26 in Portland, Oregon. The conference was co-sponsored by Western North America Region (WNAR) of the IBS, Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS), and Japanese Region (JR) of the IBS. The JR organized two invited sessions entitled “Recent advances on causal inference in observational studies” and “Recent advances and new directions in prognostic prediction.”

The 2019 Japanese Joint Statistical Meeting

The Japanese Joint Statistical Meeting will be held on September 8-12 at Shiga University in Shiga, Japan, being hosted by Japanese Federation of Science Association, which consists of six sponsoring organizations, including the Biometric Society of Japan (BSJ). Since many from other organizations will attend this meeting, it is a good opportunity for BSJ members to communicate with researches from various fields other than biometrics. The BSJ is organizing two invited sessions, the Biometric Symposium and the Young Biostatisticians Award session. In the Biometric Symposium entitled “Clinical trial designs and statistical analysis methods utilizing disease registry data”, the BSJ is inviting five researchers to discuss quality assurance, study designs, statistical analysis methods, and case studies of disease registry data. In the Young Biostatisticians Award session, the two winners of the Young Biostatisticians Award conferred by the society will make presentations on their research on over-dispersed count data and association analysis for gut microbial compositional data.

 Speakers and organizers of an Invited Session in the 2019 WNAR/IMS/JR

Ikuko Funatogawa


8-12 September

The 2019 Japanese Joint Statistical Meeting

Shiga University, Shiga, Japan


Nordic-Baltic Region (NR)

The 7th Nordic-Baltic Biometric Conference was held on 3-5 June 2019 at Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania (hereinafter NBBC19). On June 2, 2019, the pre-conference course “Mediation Analysis with R” was given by assoc. prof. Theis Lange from University of Copenhagen. The NBBC conference was held in the Baltic States for the second time (the conference was held in Tartu, Estonia in 2009) and the first in Lithuania. The participants of NBBC19 consisted of 21% of scientists from Lithuanian and 79% from foreign universities (from 15 countries worldwide). 86.6% of the participants were researchers from universities and research institutes, and 13.4% were participants from the private and public sectors (AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, LEO Pharma A/S, Rigshospitalet, German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety). As planned, NBBC19 had 4 keynotes, 5 invited and 8 contributed sessions.

Keynote Speakers:

  1. SJS lecture: Richard Cook (University of Waterloo). Defining and Addressing Dependent Observation Schemes in Life History Studies
  2. Geert Molenberghs (Hasselt University, KU Leuven). The Applied Statistical (Data) Scientist in a High-Profile and Societal Environment
  3. Stian Lydersen (NTNU). Contingency Tables: how to Choose Appropriate Methods for Analysis
  4. Kestutis Dučinskas (Klaipėda university). Statistical Classification of Spatial Data Based on Discriminant Functions
Invited Session:
  1. Recent development in analysis of omics-data
  2. Causal inference from a stochastic process point of view
  3. Novel Designs in Randomized Clinical Trials: Platform, Umbrella and Basket Trial
  4. Statistical methods and models in neuroscience
  5. Applied spatiotemporal modelling
The latest biometrics‘research in life, agriculture and ecology were presented at the conference. The main focus was on life sciences, where novel designs in randomized clinical trials, genetics, neurobiology topics were discussed in the light of Big Data era. Modifications of classical methods and new methods for analysis of big data were presented.
14 participants from Vilnius and Klaipėda universities participated in the conference and two thirds of them were young scientists. It was a great opportunity for them to get in touch with famous scientists who, we believe, contributed to their further interest in this topical science and motivated for high quality research.

Spanish Region (REsp)

The XVIIth Spanish Biometric Conference and the VIIth Ibero-American Biometric Meeting was held in the beautiful city of València between the 19th and 21st of June 2019. This edition of the conference, attended by 137 researchers, was hosted by Universitat de València.

The Local Organizing Committee was led by the President, Anabel Forte, in collaboration with representatives of: all public universities of the Comunitat Valenciana (Universitat de València, Universitat Jaume I, Universitat Politècnica de València, Universitat d’Alacant, Universias Miguel Hernández); the Counseling of Universal Healthcare and Public Health of Generalitat Valenciana and representative members of the Argentinean, Central-American and Caribbean, Chilean and Equatorial regions of the International Biometrical Society.

A special mention is deserved by the Scientific Committee, led by Carmen Armero, given the high scientific quality of the conference. In particular, the Scientific Program included an introductory course (by Virgilio Gómez-Rúbio from the University of Castilla La-Mancha); three plenary sessions (Klaus Langohr from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Adrian Bowman from University of Glasgow and Michela Cameletti from University of Bergamo); and three invited sessions. The first one was the Young Statistician Showcase, which was funded by the International Biometric Society, allowing five young researches, previously selected by the Scientific Committee among 13 candidates, to present their work. There was also an EMR -Portuguese-Spanish Session, an Ibero-American Session and a session organized by the Spanish epidemiology society with five speakers each. The rest of the speakers (up to 59) participated at the 19 parallel thematic sessions (Multivariate Analysis, Statistical Methods in Medical Research, Mixed Effects Models, Clinical Trials, Bayesian Statistics, Spatio-Temporal Models, etc.). Finally, a total of 31 posters were presented and discussed in a very interesting session. It worth mentioning that two of the sessions were devoted to honor two relevant members of the Biometric Society. In particular, the Ibero- American Session, which honored (the sadly passed away) Jonnhy Demey and the session for Agricultural data analysis which served as a tribute to Emilio Carbonell who also was named Honorary member of the Spanish Biometrical Society during the assembly that took place on the afternoon of the 20th.
A nice social program was also planned. From the welcome reception on the evening of the 18th of June at the Botanic Gardens to the Gala Dinner on Thursday the 20th in the Submarine restaurant inside the Oceanographic facilities. A very interesting guided visit to the city was also performed on Wednesday the 19th. In this visit the attendees could learn about the great mix of styles that can be found in the architecture of València showing the mix of cultures that it represents.

Western North America Region (WNAR)

The 2019 Annual Meeting of the WNAR/IMS was hosted by Oregon Health Science University from June 23-26 with over 280 participants.

Three short courses were offered: “Teaching Statistics and Data Science with R/RStudio” by Nicholas Horton (Amherst College) and Kelly McConville (Reed College), “Mediation Analysis and Software with Applications to Explore Health Disparities” by Qingzhao Yu and Bin Li (Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center), and “A Gradual introduction to Shiny” by Ted Laderas and Jessica Minnier (Oregon Health and Science University).

In addition to our yearly partnership with IMS, this year we also partnered with the Japanese Region (JR) of IBS to promote international collaborations. There were 29 invited sessions (24 WNAR, 3 IMS, 2 JR), two invited panels, eight student paper sessions, and five contributed sessions. We also had 20 posters during our Poster Session. Professor Bin Yu (University of California Berkeley) gave the Presidential Invited Address “Three Principles of Data Science: Predictability, Computability, and Stability.”

Figure 1. Conference Participants enjoying the WNAR mixer on Sunday night

Figure 2. Bin Yu giving the Presidential Invited Address

WNAR thanks Meike Niederhausen (Oregon Health Sciences University) for her efforts as the Program Chair and Byung Park Kong (both from University of Alberta) for his efforts as the Local Organizer.

2019 WNAR/IMS Student Paper Competition

Thirty-eight students participated in the student paper competition at the 2019 WNAR/IMS/JR conference. The winner in the written category was Tiffany Tang, University of California Berkeley (“Integrated Principal Components Analysis “). There were three winners (tied) in the oral category: Natalie Gasca, University of Washington (“Using dimension-reduction methods to identify interpretable diet patterns related to body mass index (BMI) in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)”), Evan Rosenman, Stanford University (“Propensity Score Methods for Merging Observational and Experimental Datasets”), and Justin Williams, University of California, Los Angeles (“Maximum Likelihood Estimation of a Truncated Normal Distribution with Censored Data”). The students received their award at the conference banquet.

We give a special thanks to the chair of the student paper competition, Jessica Minnier from Oregon Health Sciences University and the other Student Competition judges: Harold Bae (Oregon State University), Lisa Brown (Seattle Genetics), Charlotte Gard (New Mexico State University), Chad He (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), Ying Lu (Stanford University), Camille Moore (National Jewish Hospital), John Rice (University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus), Laura Saba (University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus), Krithika Suresh (University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus), Fan Yang (University of Colorado Anschultz Medical Campus), Wen Zhou (Colorado State University).

Figures 4a-b. All of the WNAR Student Paper Competition Participants and the Student Award reviewers and judges. WNAR Student Paper Competition winners with Katerina Kechris (WNAR President), Jessica Minnier (Student Paper Competition Chair), and Mary Redman (WNAR Treasurer)

2020 WNAR/IMS meeting

The 2020 WNAR/IMS meeting will be in Anchorage, Alaska from 21-24 June 2020.

Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and is picturesquely located on the Cook Inlet. The Chugach mountains, multiple national parks, and 60 glaciers are all a short drive away. The WNAR conference is held in June, when the long summer days can be enjoyed. Catherine Bradley (US Wildlife and Fish Services) is the Local Organizer, Yingqi Zhao (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) is the Program Chair, and Harold Bae (Oregon State University) is the Student Competition Chair. Registration information and other details about the meeting available on the WNAR web page

2020 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 2020 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.

Megan Othus


IBS Journal Club

The Education Committee of the International Biometric Society (IBS) is excited to announce it will continue to offer the Journal Club discussions in 2019.

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. All sessions are recorded and are available on the IBS website here, To access the recordings, you must login to your IBS account.

10 October 2019 at 15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET) | Register HERE
A Case Study Competition Among Methods for Analyzing Large Spatial Data
Speaker: Matthew Heaton with Discussant: Veronica Berrocal

12 December 2019 at 15:00 GMT (10:00 AM ET) Register HERE
Time-Dynamic Profiling with Application to Hospital Readmission Among Patients on Dialysis
Speaker: Damla Senturk with Discussant: Kevin Zhe

13 February 2020 at 07:00 UTC (NOTE TIME CHANGE) | Register HERE
Information content of cluster-period cells in stepped wedge trials
Speaker: Jessica Kasza with Discussant: Richard Hooper

2019 Journal Club Recordings:

14 February 2019 – Recording available here.
Title: Flexible variable selection for recovering sparsity in nonadditive nonparametric models
Speaker: Inyoung Kim

11 April 2019 – Recording available here.
Title: Sample Size Determination for GEE Analyses of Stepped Wedge Cluster Randomized Trials
Speaker: Frank Li
Discussant: Linda Harrison

13 June 2019 – Recording available here.
Title: Informative group testing for multiplex assays
Speaker: Christopher Bilder

15 August 2019 – Recording coming soon!
Title: Bayesian Analysis of 210Pb Dating
Speaker: Marco A. Aquino-Lopez

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