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President’s Corner


Portrait of Elizabeth ThompsonAs I sit down to write this President’s Corner piece, of course I check to see what I wrote in the last piece, three months ago. I am struck by how many of the same topics are ones I had in mind to raise this time. This not that nothing has happened in three months, but rather that many things are moving forward and taking shape.

First, however, something new, although it was already under consideration then, you will see on the front page of this Bulletin, and soon on our website, the IBS statement on the importance of our diversity in geography and culture and our unity through shared scientific interests in the statistical aspects of the biosciences. Also, we emphasize the key importance of continuing interactions through our scientific meetings worldwide. I am indebted to President-elect Louise Ryan for crafting the first draft of this statement, which has been approved by our Executive Board, and now will be promoted in various forums. I believe the spirit of this statement is something to which we can all subscribe, and I hope individual members will also use it, as and where appropriate opportunities arise.

In ongoing small but incremental improvements to our website, we now have a one-page list of Regional and Network meetings, under the main Meetings tab. Not only is this a useful list, but I find it a very heartening page. With at least one Regional Meeting listed in every month from March through November, it gives a very direct picture of our worldwide diversity, with meetings in Europe, Africa, North and South America and in Australasia. The IBS will be represented at most of these meetings by an IBS Officer or Board Member, bringing the opportunity for discussions and closer links between Regional and central activities. Additionally, over half our Representative Council (RC) Members will start new four-year terms on July 1, and the names of these new appointees are now coming in from the Regional Officers. As you will know, these representatives are now chosen directly by the members of each Region, and your RC members are another avenue to bring your ideas and initiatives to the IBS.

While I believe that there is no substitute for in-person meetings, these are being continually augmented by expansions of our online services and communications. Under a subcommittee of the Education Committee, led by Jim Todd (BIR), our Journal Club is off to an excellent start. Also, high on the agenda for web improvements is a reorganization of the increasing body of material available to all members under the Education tab of the IBS homepage. There you will find not only the Journal Club, but also excellent materials from past IBCs, including both video and ‘slides-with-audio’. Getting all these indexed and presented in a more transparent form will definitely enhance this collection of materials that have been generously made available by their authors to IBS members worldwide.

Another new online activity is the Regional Training and Information Sessions, initiated and developed by the International Biometric Office (IBO), following discussions at IBC2016 in Victoria. These sessions are helping Regional Officers learn what IBS can offer in terms of administrative support and how Regions can bring their concerns, questions and suggestions to the IBO, so that the IBO and the Regions can work effectively together. Because of our diverse time zones, these have been organized longitudinally, with the first session for the Americas, the next two for Europe and Africa and an upcoming session for East Asia and Australasia. These sessions have been popular with Regions. Together with the enhanced newsletter for Regional Officers, under its new name IBO Update, our communications with many Regions are greatly improved.

Back to the importance of in-person meetings – the IBS Executive Board meets in person once each year, with two or three additional online meetings. In an IBC year, we meet of course at IBC, but in a non-IBC year we gather at a chosen Regional Meeting. This year was the turn of the joint meeting of the EMR and Italian Regions in Thessaloniki, Greece. Despite long travel and other travel issues for many, all the Officers and most of the Board Members gathered for a long and productive meeting and additionally enjoyed meeting many other IBS members from a wide range of countries and Regions. We thank the EMR for hosting us at their very successful meeting. The Board discussed numerous topics, including our finances, our IBCs, our membership, our Regions, our journals and our upcoming 70th anniversary. On the last item, no spoilers here: watch our website and journals in September! We approved new procedures, proposed by Council Chair Andrea Berghold (ROeS) that will enhance ongoing leadership in the RC. We approved permanent funding for our new initiative with ISI to bring two IBS young professionals to WSC (odd numbered years) and two ISI members to IBC (even numbered years). The Board was enthusiastic about this initiative, proposed by our ISI/IBS liaisons Kaye Basford (AR) and Jane Hutton (BIR), and we hope to see its expansion in the future.

As many will know, Professor Marie Davidian (ENAR) has given outstanding service to the IBS as Executive Editor of Biometrics since 2006 and will step down at the end of 2017. Last year, a special search committee was appointed by the Board to seek a successor in this key role that is so important to the continuing success and prestige of our flagship journal, and thus to the Society also. After seeking and reviewing nominations, the Search Committee was unanimous in their first choice of Professor Geert Molenberghs (RBe). I am very happy to report to you all that Geert has agreed to serve, and the Board, at its meeting in Thessaloniki, enthusiastically approved his appointment as Executive Editor of Biometrics from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2020. Of course, Geert needs no introduction to members of IBS, as he has served the Society with distinction for many years. He was President in 2004-5, and in 2010 he was the recipient of our Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Development of the IBS. I would like to express my thanks to the Search Committee chaired by James Carpenter (BIR), to Marie for her dedicated service over the last 12 years and to Geert for continuing his service to IBS in this important role.

Finally, to IBC2018 in Barcelona and another important in-person meeting in Thessaloniki – I and others were fortunate to meet with the Co-chairs of the Local Organizing Committee, Pere Puig and Lupe Gomez, and Officers of the Spanish Region (REsp). Plans for the IBC are taking shape, the website has gone live, contracts have been signed and budget planning is currently in progress. Invited sessions and short courses will be selected in the very near future, and committees to organize all the special sessions are starting to be formed. The Call for Contributed Papers is not for a while yet, but I hope many of you will be submitting abstracts. I look forward to meeting IBS members, old and new, in Barcelona in July 2018.

Elizabeth Thompson

From the Editor

Dear Readers,

The Executive Board Meeting was held during the 9th Eastern Mediterranean Region and Italian Region Conference, held in Thessaloniki, Greece, May 8-12. Since this was my own regional conference I participated and was happy to meet Elizabeth Thompson (IBS President), Louise Ryan (IBS President-elect) and many other Board Directors. Elizabeth will cover the board meeting in her President’s Corner.

Before the joint regions’ meeting, a two-day symposium honoring Professor Marvin Zelen, organized by Frontier Science Foundation-Hellas and co-sponsored by all Frontier offices, was held. Marvin was a pioneer in the field of Biostatistics, a professor and exceptional member of the Harvard School of Public Health community, founder of FSTRF, but above all he was a mentor for scientists working in medical statistics and research. The symposium included many interesting topics and an enjoyable dinner at the Museum of Byzantine Culture.

One of the groups at the Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki.

There were about 180 participants at the conference, including 25 from Italy and invited speakers from the U.S. The conference was very successful both scientifically and socially.

In this issue we continue with the Meet the Regional Presidents of IBS (Part IV: British and Irish Region and Austro-Swiss Region). In addition, Daria Steigman, our professional journalist, has written an article, Mapping the World’s Knowledge to Predict the Future, based on an interview with Dr. Kira Radinsky. Dr. Radinsky is the Ukrainian-born Israeli data scientist who has predicted disease outbreaks and built a commercial artificial, intelligence-based analytics platform that predicts consumer behavior. I have been trying to reach Kira since her consumer behavior analytic company, SalesPredict, was acquired by eBay for an estimated amount of $40 million (July 2016), and Kira was appointed eBay Chief Scientist, Israel. I hope you will enjoy this interesting article.

In the Software Corner, Garth Tarr (AR) has written an article entitled Interactive Data Analysis in R through the Shiny Package. A version of this article was first published in the Australian Region IBS-AR Newsletter (Issue 19, February 2017). Garth and I plan to jointly write a series of articles on how to easily interpret interactions in various statistical models in R and SAS, to appear in the Software Corner of upcoming issues of the Bulletin.

In this issue I have also published a solution to the mathematical riddle from previous issue, including the names of the first seven to answer correctly. We received 15 correct answers out of 35 answers. The first one to answer correctly was Simon Bonner (University of Western Ontario). I’ll appreciate if you could email me any interesting riddles you encounter to be published in a future issue.

I am happy that the Society has opened a Facebook account. You are all invited to click the Follow button here:

Havi Murad

Havi Murad, Biometric Bulletin Editor, at the Museum of Byzantine Culture.

XXIX International Biometric Conference

New IBS Statement on International Collaboration

The International Biometric Society cherishes the diversity of our membership, who represent over 70 different countries, with a wide range of ethnic, cultural and religious heritages. Any differ-ences are transcended through our shared interest in statistical and mathematical methods for the biosciences.

Our different perspectives challenge each other and bring greater depth to our work. Intellectual exchange within our society is fostered by the meetings that are routinely held by the various regions that make up our Society, as well as our biennial International Biometric Conference. The Society places the high-est priority on our members’ freedom to attend such meetings and to engage with each other on a global scale.

Mapping the World’s Knowledge to Predict the Future

By Daria Steigman

There’s a scene in X-Men: Apocalypse where Professor Charles Xavier uses Cerebro, his telepathic brain-wave amplifying device, to search for an old friend. As Xavier puts the device on, he can hear and listen to the thoughts of billions of people around the globe.

This is in many ways what Kira Radinsky, with AI and algorithms, is trying to do.

Meet Radinsky, who was named by MIT Technology Review as one of its “35 Innovators Under 35.” The Ukrainian-born, Israeli data scientist has predicted disease outbreaks and built a commercial artificial-intelligence-based analytics platform that predicts consumer behavior. The latter, SalesPredict, was sold to eBay in 2016.

Biometric Bulletin talked to Radinsky about her work – and her inspiration.

Algorithms and Data Mining

Radinsky’s success lies at the intersection of algorithms and predictive data mining. She has built a set of algorithms that can swoop up enormous amounts of data. Her system then uses natural language processing to deep scan for historical patterns to predict future events.

“You could sift through data and look for patterns in history manually,” Radinsky told Biometric Bulletin. “But computers can speed up the process and help us find those patterns systematically.”

For example, Radinsky amassed the entire archives of The New York Times along with millions of Web searches and then set about looking for patterns in the more than 150 years of data. She explained that the approach “models the context-conditional probabilities of potential outcomes by reading the news and finding patterns in them.”

One pattern: riots. Radinsky has been able to predict with about 80 percent accuracy when rioting is likely to be triggered. And governments are listening.

“If a government stops subsidizing something it previously was, it creates in certain countries with large wealth disparities the conditions for rioting. In particular, we can expect that students will riot,” she said. “We could also see that when a riot happens, and a policeman kills someone, the unrest will get worse.” Three incidents that helped inform Radinsky’s riot predictions: 2010 unrest in Egypt sparked by the lifting of bread subsidies, 2012 unrest in Nigeria sparked by the lifting of oil subsidies, and 2013 unrest in Sudan sparked by the lifting of cooking oil subsidies.

Predicting Disease Outbreaks

Radinsky applied the same approach used to predict riots to spot a different kind of disaster. She developed algorithms that accurately predicted Cuba’s first cholera outbreak in 130 years. They discovered that cholera outbreaks are more likely to occur in flooded landlocked areas when that flooding follows a long drought. Armed with this early warning notice, countries can equip medical teams and send in clean water to prevent outbreaks and/or quickly stop them from spreading.

As an aside, Radinsky noted that the disease outbreak pattern surprised her because cholera is water-borne, so she expected to find it crop up in areas with lots of water (not regions with very little). But that’s exactly why this kind of advanced analytics is so important: it allows people to use the power of computing to far more quickly identify key patterns that can save lives.

Getting Smarter at Sales

In the commercial sector, Radinsky has put her predictive analytics to work helping companies understand what buyers want. “Computing can do quickly,” she said, “what an expert would do with an infinite amount of time.”

For eBay, this means equipping sellers will information on pricing, design, sales patterns, consumer demand, and other factors to help sellers sell and customers get a better sales experience. Radinsky’s sales predictive technology not only helps companies stock the right inventory today, but it can also identify patterns to help companies more rapidly respond to changing consumer tastes, price points, and more. It’s about sifting through vast quantities of data to find the actionable patterns to improve your products (and product offerings) and to increase sales.

Personalizing Medicine

While Radinsky’s day job lies in the commercial sector, her passion is clearly in the area of public good. As a visiting professor at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, she is working with hospitals and HMOs to bring more personalized medical treatment to patients. Right now she’s building algorithms that can comb through decades of data on four million patients (plus medical articles, books, physician records, and other data) to understand which medicines can best treat hypertension and which best treat different cancers. As always, she’s looking for patterns to provide answers and predict how we can better treat and cure diseases going forward.

Which brings us back to the future. When asked what drove Radinsky to pursue this work, she pointed to sci-fi. “Like science fiction, I was fascinated by the idea that computing could see things into the future that we as humans couldn’t do.” This, she concluded, is where AI should be taking us.

35 Innovators:


September 2017 Issue Highlights

The September issue features a Discussion Paper in Biometric Methodology, “A risk-based measure of time-varying prognostic discrimination for survival models,” by C. Jason Liang and Patrick J. Heagerty, with discussions by T. A. Gerds and Martin Schumacher, Layla Parast and Carolyn M. Rutter, and H. Michael and L. Tian. Other papers in the Methodology section include “A Dirichlet-tree multinomial regression model for associating dietary nutrients with gut microorganisms,” by Tao Wang and Hongyu Zhao; “Estimation of the relatedness coefficients from biallelic markers, application in plant mating designs,” by Fabien Laporte, Alain Charcosset and Tristan Mary-Huard; “Maximin optimal designs for cluster randomized trials,” by Sheng Wu, Weng Kee Wong and Catherine M. Crespi; “Pearson’s Chi-square test and rank correlation inferences for clustered data,” by Joanna H. Shih and Michael P. Fay; and “Semiparametric regression analysis of interval-censored competing risks data,” by Lu Mao, D. Y. Lin and Donglin Zeng.

The Biometric Practice section features papers spanning a diverse range of application areas, including “A multi-dimensional functional principal components analysis of EEG data,” by Kyle Hasenstab, Aaron Scheffler, Donatello Telesca, Catherine A. Sugar, Shafali Jeste, Charlotte DiStefano and Damla Senturk; “Visualizations for genetic assignment analyses using the saddlepoint approximation method,” by L. F. McMillan and R. M. Fewster; “Estimation and testing problems in auditory neuroscience via clustering,” by Youngdeok Hwang, Samantha Wright and Bret M. Hanlon; and “Combining item response theory with multiple imputation to equate health assessment questionnaires,” by Chenyang Gu and Roee Gutman.

As always, 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 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.

New Feature in ScholarOne Manuscripts Submission System

Our ScholarOne submission system has been modified to allow different options for authors submitting a revised manuscript. When submitting a revision authors now have the choice of submitting responses to the reviews as text (pasted into a field) or by uploading a file. The option is given in the usual box where responses are to be provided.

Editorial Board News

As we reported previously, Co-editor (CE) Mike Daniel’s term will end 31 December 2017. According to geographic convention, the new CE should reside in North America. The search committee appointed to nominate Mike’s successor has identified a candidate; the new CE will be announced in a future column upon approval of the nomination by the IBS Executive Board.

As we also noted, Executive Editor (EE) Marie Davidian’s term will end 31 December 2017 and is not renewable. The new EE’s term will be 1 January 2018 – 31 December 2020; according to the IBS Policies and Procedures, the EE can be reappointed at most three times. The search committee appointed to nominate Marie’s successor has identified Geert Molenberghs (Belgian Region), former Biometrics Co-editor and past IBS President, as the next EE. Geert’s nomination has been approved enthusiastically by the IBS Executive Board, and he will succeed Marie on 1 January 2018. Geert and Marie will work closely in the second half of 2017 to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities on 1 January 2018.

New Publishing Agreement

The previous publishing agreement the IBS had with Wiley to publish Biometrics ended 31 December 2016. The IBS undertook negotiations with Wiley on a new, five-year agreement for the term 1 January 2017 – 31 December 2021; these negotiations were led ably by James Carpenter, past IBS Secretary/Treasurer. The new agreement has been signed, and we look forward to working with the team at Wiley on Biometrics for another five years.

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

The number of papers submitted annually to JABES has averaged a little under 200 in recent years, and the number published is typically around 30. We are currently looking at ways to raise the profile of the journal. Special issues are one way of achieving this, and the Special Issue on Animal Movement Modeling, with Mevin Hooten, Ruth King and Roland Langrock as Guest Editors, will appear later this year. If you have thoughts on a suitable topic for a special issue, I 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.

The March issue of JABES included the following papers: “Residual variance–covariance modelling in analysis of multivariate data from variety selection trials” by J. De Faveri, A.P. Verbyla, B.R. Cullis, W.S. Pitchford and R. Thompson; “Smooth additive mixed models for predicting aboveground biomass” by M. Sánchez-González, M. Durbán, D.J. Lee, I. Cañellas and H. Sixto; “The Bayesian group lasso for confounded spatial data” by T.J. Hefley, M.B. Hooten, E.M. Hanks, R.E. Russell and D.P. Walsh; “Functional mapping of multiple dynamic traits” by J. Cao, L. Wang, Z. Huang, J. Gai and R. Wu; and “Comparison of models analyzing a small number of observed meningitis cases in Navrongo, Ghana” by Y. Hagar, M. Hayden, C. Wiedinmyer and V. Dukic. There are also three book reviews: E. Pebesma reviews “Extending R” by J.M. Chalmers, P.F. Craigmile reviews “EnvStats: An R Package for Environmental Scientists” by S.P. Millard, and L. Polansky reviews “Hidden Markov Models for Time Series: An Introduction Using R” (2nd edn) by W. Zucchini, I.L. MacDonald and R. Langrock.

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 (

Steve Buckland

Editor in Chief

Software Corner

Interactive Data Analysis in R through the Shiny Package

By Garth Tarr

*A version of this article was first published in the Australian Region IBS-AR Newsletter, Issue 19, February 2017.

In recent years, the power of R has been unleashed through the Shiny package which enables end users to interact with complex analyses without needing to know any R programming. A Shiny application is a web interface to an underlying R instance. It is remarkably easy to develop both simple and complex Shiny apps using R, and importantly, it requires no special knowledge of HTML, CSS or JavaScript.

Shiny applications are reactive in a similar way to a spreadsheet. Outputs change instantly as users modify inputs, without requiring a reload of the browser. Advanced analytics can be programmed into the Shiny application and shared with collaborators who may upload their own data into the application. The application can be run locally on your computer, hosted on an internal server or hosted online, for example through ShinyApps.

One of the advantages of moving to a web-based approach is that it enables richer interactivity in data visualisation. There is a large and ever increasing pool of R packages that allow researchers to go beyond static plots. Many of these are based around the htmlwidgets framework that joins the raw statistical power of R with beautiful visualisations powered by JavaScript.

A gallery of packages has been created to showcase the various visualisations that are currently possible. Two popular packages for visualising networks are networkD3 and edgebundleR (figure a). The pairsD3 package provides interactive pairs plots, leaflet package facilitates interactive maps, d3heatmap provides interactive heat maps (figure b) and rpivotTable generates a pivot table that allows users to interactively summarise and plot data tables. The qtlcharts package provides a suite of interactive graphics including an interactive correlation heatmap where you can click on a cell, and the corresponding scatterplot is displayed (figure c).

The combination of Shiny and interactive JavaScript driven plots provides a great way of sharing analyses with your collaborators and empowering them to explore the data and results themselve.

(a) A chord diagram showing the nodes and vertices of a graph (for example, significant associations between gene expression levels) generated using the edgebundle() function from the edgebundleR package.

(b) A visualisation of a data frame with the variables in the columns and the row names displayed on the right. A clustering algorithm is applied by default to arrange the rows and columns (as shown by the dendrogram across the top and left hand side). Generated using the d3heatmap() function from the d3heatmap package.

(c) A data frame containing 19 blood serum measurements for 481 subjects was passed to the iplotCorr() function from the qtlcharts package. On the left is a heatmap of the correlation matrix. Hovering the cursor over the cell in the heatmap shows the estimated correlation coefficient and clicking a cell updates the plot on the right to show a scatterplot of the two variables. Optionally, the points in the scatterplot can be coloured by an underlying factor, here, the colours represent treatment groups.

Mathematical Riddle

The solution to the last issue’s mathematical riddle was:

2+3+3*11=38, you had to count the number of the sides in the two shapes summing up to 11.

The seven individuals who answered correctly were:

  1. Simon Bonner, Department of Statistical and Actuarial Sciences/ Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, Canada
  2. Michael A. McIsaac, Department of Public Health Sciences, Queen’s University, Kingstone, ON, Canada
  3. Peter Dalgaard, Center of Statistics, Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
  4. Emlin Williams, Statistical Consulting Unit, Australian National University, Australia.
  5. Andrew van Burgel, Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, Albany, WA
  6. Ishay Weissman, Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, Technion, Haifa, Israel
  7. Ella Shaposhnik, MSc student, Statistics, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Please email interesting riddles to be published in a future issue to


Meet the Regional Presidents of IBS (Part IV)

Austro-Swiss Region (ROeS)

123 regular members
16 retired members
16 student members
Total: 155 members

President: Martin Posch (2016 – 2017) – Professor of Medical Statistics at the Medical University of Vienna and Head of the Center for Medical Statistics, Informatics and Intelligent System.

Research Interests:

  • Group sequential designs
  • designs and multiple testing with special focus on applications in clinical trials and Bioinformatics

ROeS Affiliated Vienna Section President: Stephan Lehr, Austrian Medicines & Medical Devices Agency.

IBS Related Activities:

  • He is organizing the next Viennese Seminar Series being held this autumn.
  • He is collaborating with the Styrian/Carinthian Section and the Hungarian Society for Clinical Biostatistics on a joint symposium on Biosimilars which will take place in October in Budapest.
  • He plans to approach other groups interested in quantitative research, together with Harald Herkner (Medical University of Vienna and Cochrane Anaestesia Review Group), who has also been elected to the board of the Viennese Section.

ROeS Affiliated Basel Section President: Hans Ulrich (Uli) Burger, F. Hoffmann-La Roche (2015 – 2017).

Research Interests:

  • Clinical trial challenges (including adaptive designs, estimands multiple testing)

IBS Related Activities:

  • He was a former President of the ROeS.
  • He continues to provide an interesting and frequent mix of workshops, conferences and short seminars to the Biometrics community in Basel and the surrounding area.

British & Irish Region (BIR)

137 regular members
16 retired members
83 student members
Total: 236 members
President: Professor John Matthews (2014 – 2016), Professor of Medical Statistics, School of Mathematics & Statistics, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

Research Interests:

  • Application of methods of experimental design to medicine, with a particular focus on crossover trials, stepped wedge trials and the potential design effects of missing data

IBS Related Activities:

  • He updated the region rules, moving to electronic voting.
  • He adopted a system of local champions – members in departments around the region who are able to promote BIR activities in their areas; for example, accessing local email lists that allow publicizing region activities beyond the membership.
  • The Chair of the Scientific Committee of the next Channel Network Conference to be held at Hasselt University in Belgium will be from the BIR. This will promote network activities of the BIR with other IBS Regions.

Region News

Australasian Region (AR)

Australasian Regional Conference

The next regional conference of the Australasian Region, titled “Biometrics by the Border”, will be held 26 – 30 November in Kingscliff, NSW, at the Mantra on Salt Beach.

The Scientific Program Committee has finalized keynote speakers. The all-female line-up celebrates achievements by women in the field of biometrics. We are excited to confirm that Elisabetta Carfagna (University of Bologna), Di Cook (Monash University), Rachel Fewster (University of Auckland), Sonja Greven (LM University Munich), Louise Ryan (University of Technology Sydney) and Jean Yang (University of Sydney) are sharing their latest insights in their respective fields. Conference workshops are currently being finalized, and we expect registration and abstract submission to open in early June.

The venue provides a range of accommodation types and budgets. It is adjacent to a great surf beach which is patrolled during that period. The Local Organizing and Program Committees are working hard to make this a conference you will appreciate attending from both a social and science perspective. Further information is available on the conference website:

Mantra on Salt Beach (Gold Coast, Australia), the venue of “Biometrics by the Border”.

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 honors 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: Yu Yang (University of Otago) and Evelyn Tay (University of Western Australia). Congratulations!

Yu Yang
Yu Yang is an honor year student majoring in statistics at the University of Otago, New Zealand. After earning a BSc degree in pharmacy from Shanghai Jiaotong University, she worked as a clinical research associate for three years. The main job task was to check and verify subjects’ trial data in clinical studies. Attracted by study design and data analysis, she came to Dunedin to study statistics. Undergraduate study equipped her with basic knowledge in statistics. After graduating in 2016 as one of the top students, she was awarded the summer studentship, a 10-week research project. Her project focused on recovery of covariance matrix by probabilistic PCA model.

Encouraged by her supervisors, Dr. Matthew Schofield and Prof Richard Barker, Yu is currently working on quantifying climate change. The project is about prediction of missing temperature data from the 14th century until current time based on tree ring data. Its aim is to develop a method of getting predictions from incomplete high-dimensional data. Yu is enthusiastic about statistical applications in daily life. She is looking forward to designing her own statistics app in the future.

Yu Yang.

Evelyn Tay

During her previous career as a General Practitioner, Evelyn observed the growing need for specialists who are able to bridge the gap between medicine and mathematics. She wishes to utilize her experience in medicine, aptitude in mathematics and interest in statistics to contribute to public health practice and policy through research in statistical methods.

She is currently completing a BSc (Honors) in the field of statistics at the University of Western Australia. Her honors project will investigate the sensitivity and timeliness of commonly used Bayesian signal detection methods to identify batch dependent adverse events following immunization. The timely detection of any abnormal rise in the incidence of adverse effects due to a batch of immunizations can lead to prompt removal of this batch from circulation. It is also important in maintaining public confidence in immunization. Her primary supervisor is Dr. Julie Marsh who is a lecturer in statistics at the University of Western Australia and a senior research fellow at the Telethon Kids Institute.

Evelyn Tay.

Vanessa Cave

Belgian Region (RBe)

6th Channel Network Conference

The charming Belgian city of Hasselt recently hosted the 6th Channel Network Conference held on 24 – 26 April 2017, a meeting of four Regions of the International Biometric Society. Over 160 biometricians gathered on the Diepenbeek campus of Hasselt University to share their latest research in fields ranging from genetics to ecology, and from joint models to causal models. The stimulating contributed program was punctuated with five plenary invited sessions: three themed sessions covering High-Dimensional Bayesian Variable Selection (organized by Alex Lewin), Neuroimaging (organized by John Aston) and the Analysis of Human Growth (organized by Sophie Swinkels), and two longer invited presentations given by Peter Diggle and Rebecca DerSimonian.

Particular highlights of the conference include the lightning poster presentation (individuals giving two minute pitches on why people should come and see their poster, which led to a very dynamic poster reception), and the conference dinner (asked to “surprise us” by the conference organizers, the restaurant exceeded all expectations, providing five courses of fine food and drink that fueled lively conversation).

Poster winners Han Bossier, Stéphanie van der Pas and Matthijs Vynck received 100 Euro Amazon vouchers, while Best Presentation winners Gustavo Amorim, Theodor Adrian Balan and Sean Yiu were awarded travel grants for next year’s IBC in Barcelona. Congratulations to them all, and thanks to the local organizers for a most enjoyable conference!

By Daniel Farewell, Cardiff University, UK
(Coordinator of the 6th IBS Channel Network Conference)

6th Channel Network Conference participants.

Poster reception.

Introducing RBe Incoming President, Sophie Vanbelle

Sophie Vanbelle was elected President for the period 2017 – 2018 at the Belgian Region’s AGM held during the 6th Channel Network Conference. She is Assistant Professor in Methodology and Statistics at the University of Maastricht (The Netherlands). She is currently mainly focusing on the development of statistical models to quantify reliability and agreement in multilevel settings, a project for which she was awarded a VENI grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. She wants to strengthen interactions between all disciplines within the Biometric society and between academia and industry, in continuity of the work done by the former President, An Vandebosch.

Sophie Vanbelle, New President of the Belgian Region.

Sophie Vanbelle

British & Irish Region (BIR)

50th Anniversary of the Cormack-Jolly-Seber Model

Just over 50 years ago, three papers appeared which independently described the fundamental approach for analyzing capture-recapture data. It is now called the ‘Cormack-Jolly-Seber model’. This anniversary is celebrated in the second issue of Statistical Science, 2016, guest edited by Steve Buckland and Byron Morgan. It features transcribed interviews with George Seber and Richard Cormack. In addition there are eight research papers that demonstrate how the capture-recapture area is still developing, with applications to genetics, social and medical areas, as well as ecology. Shown in the photographs are Steve presenting a copy of the issue to Richard at St. Andrews University and Rachel Fewster, a co-author of two of the papers in the issue, presenting a copy to George Seber at the University of Auckland.

Steve Buckland and Richard Cormack.

George Seber and Rachel Fewster.

Meeting “Design of Experiments in Medicine”
The final regional meeting of 2016, organized by outgoing President of the British and Irish Region of the IBS, John Matthews, was held at University College London. The meeting began with John’s Presidential Address entitled “Stepped Wedge – Cluster or Crossover?” John was followed by Rosemary Bailey, who described some of her work as a member of a Royal Statistical Society working party, set up following a disastrous study in which all treated volunteers were admitted to intensive care within a few hours of treatment. In addition, there were talks by Lisa Hampson, Rebecca Walwyn, Steve Gilmour and Thomas Jaki. More than 40 people attended the meeting. The well-presented talks gave a clear sense that, despite occasional reports of its demise, design of experiments continues to provide interesting challenges for research that have immediate practical implications.

Roland Langrock

Eastern Meditteranean Region (EMR)

9th EMR-Italian Region Conference, Thessaloniki
The 9th Eastern Mediterranean and Italian Region – International Biometrics Society Conference took place in Thessaloniki, Greece from 8 – 12 May 2017. There were around 200 participants from 23 countries from all over the world. The entire meeting was devoted to the memory of Prof. Marvin Zelen (Harvard University), a keen supported of EMR, who passed away in November 2014. More details about the meeting will appear in the next issue of the Biometric Bulletin.


“Health in Israel” Series in Lancet
In May 2017, a series entitled “Health in Israel” was published in The Lancet as part of its program of country analyses ( The series includes papers, comments and viewpoints which explore Israel’s unique history, challenges and accomplishments, as well as the religious and regional influences that have had an impact on health. Topics include: history of the healthcare system, maternal and child health, health of the elderly, health inequalities, ethical issues, medical genetics, digital health, big data and life science research. The series also offers insight into both existing collaborations and potential future opportunities, as well as outlines extensive recommendations to address identified challenges and to further strengthen healthcare delivery systems.

Annual Meeting of the Israel Statistical Association
The Israel Statistical Association held its annual meeting on May 25, 2017 in Ben-Gurion University, Beer-Sheba, Israel, and it was attended by 130 participants. The day opened with a keynote talk by Professor Terry Speed (Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Australia) titled “Design and Initial Analysis of Largish Omics Studies”. The meeting included a variety of sessions: Statistics for Dynamic Systems, Statistics and Public Policy, Statistics for Medicine and Biostatistics (sessions in collaboration with EMR-IBS), Challenges for Actuarial Sciences, Short R presentations and a Poster Session. There were two winners of the poster competition: Orit Moradov (Hebrew University, Jerusalem) and Barak Brill (Tel-Aviv University). The meeting concluded with a panel discussion on surveys, moderated by Zvi Gilula (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) with the discussants: Mano Geva (Sampling Research Institute), Camil Fuchs (Tel Aviv University) and Ron Kenneth (KPA Group). The panelists discussed election surveys and surveys via the Internet and presented real results of surveys for the elections in France, the U.S. and Israel. A day after the conference, May 26, Professor Speed gave a five hour workshop on “An introduction to Removing Unwanted Variation (RUV) with negative controls”.

International Awards Received by Israelis
The West Medal for 2017 was awarded by the Royal Statistical Society to Prof. Danny Pfeffermann. Danny has had a long career in social statistics, with particular methodological interests in time series, multilevel modelling, survey non-response and small area estimation. He has for many years held down multiple roles, has been President of the Israeli Statistical Society and is currently the National Statistician in Israel, Professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Professor of Social Statistics at Southampton, while continuing a role with the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. He continues to use his expertise to train the next generation of official statisticians, as well as pursue his research interests, which also inform his work directing a national statistical office.

The Shewhart Medal for 2017 was awarded by the American Society for Quality to Prof. David Steinberg from the Department of Statistics and Operations Research at Tel-Aviv University, Israel. David has contributed fundamental research in the design of industrial experiments, especially robust design experiments, and he has provided outstanding technical service as the Editor of Technometrics.

Giota Touloumi

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 WebENAR

2017 ENAR – Washington, DC, USA
The 2017 ENAR Spring Meeting was held March 12 to 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. ENAR extends congratulations to John Van Ryzin Award winner Sophie Chen of the University of Michigan and all recipients of the Distinguished Student Paper Award. The Junior Biostatisticians in Health Research Workshop hosted 39 enthusiastic junior researchers from 36 institutions, selected out of 78 applicants. The participants were hosted by the organizing committee: Brisa Sanchez (Chair), Ana-Maria Staicu, Ben Leiby, Saonli Basu and Howard Chang. The workshop organizing committee thanks the panelists for sharing their insights and acknowledges the generous support from NCI and NIAID (Conference Grant PIs Brent Coull and Amy Herring), and from the 2017 ENAR Junior Researchers Coalition (Boston University, University of Rochester, University of Minnesota, University of Pittsburgh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Vanderbilt University). The committee invites funding and support for the next workshop.

ENAR 2017 President Scarlett Bellamy (Drexel University), Presidential Invited Speaker Louise Ryan (University of Technology Sydney) and the Imposteriors (Brad Carlin (University of Minnesota), Mark Glickman (Harvard University), Don Hedeker (University of Chicago), Jennifer Hill (New York University) and Michael Jordan (University of California-Berkeley).

2017 JSM – Baltimore, MD, USA
The 2017 JSM will convene at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD from 29 July–3 August. The theme of the 2017 meeting is “Statistics: It’s Essential.” ENAR has been instrumental in helping to put together an outstanding program, including sponsoring many sessions. These sessions include invited presentations about safety evaluation, joint modelling of recurrent and terminal events, integrative analysis of genomics, reproducibility, mediation of behavioral health interventions, surrogate endpoints, causal inference for infectious disease outcomes, meta-analysis, methods for massive, multi-modal, and complex imaging data, econometrics and policy, precision medicine, statistical challenges and methods for electronic health records, microbiome analysis, functional data, spatial risk assessment and network analysis. This year’s program also features an ENAR-sponsored invited poster session on astrostatistics. ENAR has also co-sponsored many contributed sessions, as well as special presentations, such as: introductory overview lectures (computer age statistical inference, network data, data science and quantile regression), the ASA President’s Invited Address (delivered by Jo Craven McGinty from the Wall Street Journal), the Deming Lecture (“A Rake’s Progress Revisited”, delivered by Fritz Scheuren of NORC at the University of Chicago), the ASA President’s Address (“Statistics: Essential Now More Than Ever (Or Why Uber Should Be in the Driver’s Seat for Cars, Not for Data Analysis”, delivered by ASA President Barry Nussbaum of the Environmental Protection Agency) and the Fisher Lecture (“The Importance of Statistics: Lessons from the Brain Sciences”, delivered by Robert E. Kass of Carnegie Mellon University). Roundtable discussions and continuing education courses will cover a wide array of topics and provide additional opportunities for networking and professional development. 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 Dionne Price from the Food and Drug Administration for serving on the Program Committee for the 2017 JSM. For more details about the upcoming JSM meetings, please see:

2018 ENAR Spring Meeting – Atlanta, GA, USA
The 2018 ENAR Spring Meeting will take place in Atlanta, GA, to be held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta from March 25 – 28. The Program Committee is soliciting suggestions for invited paper sessions. Please suggest ideas and potential speakers and/or develop a formal proposal. Proposals on topics that have broad potential scientific impact are particularly encouraged. Invited sessions are 105 minutes long, and different formats are encouraged, such as sessions with four speakers, three speakers plus a discussant or a panel discussion. The invited session proposals will be selected by the Program Committee, which includes the Program Chair, Associate Chair, 15 ASA representatives of ASA sections and two ENAR at-large members. One participant may be a speaker/ panelist in at most one invited or contributed session. The deadline for submission is 15 June 2017. Formal invited session proposals can be submitted online through ENAR’s website. To informally suggest ideas, topics or names of potential speakers, contact Veera Baladandayuthapani (, Program Chair or Jeff Goldsmith (, Associate Chair.

2018 JSM – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
The 2018 Joint Statistical Meetings will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from 28 July – 2 August. ENAR is fortunate to have Brian Reich of NC State be our representative to the Program Committee. If you have ideas for the meeting, feel free to contact Brian:

2019 ENAR Spring Meeting – Philadelphia, PA, USA
Stay tuned for information about the 2019 ENAR Spring Meeting in Philadelphia, PA! (24 – 27 March 2019)

Alisa Stephens-Shields

German Region (DR)

From the Working Groups of the German Region
The working group ‘Advanced Training’ organized a workshop on the ‘Analysis of time to event data with recurrent events and combined endpoints’, held in Berlin April 24 – 25, 2017. The invited speakers were Dr. Geraldine Rauch (Institute of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology, Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf), Drs. Antje Jahn and Gerrit Toenges (Institute of Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz). For more information:

Workshop ‘Analysis of time to event data with recurrent events and combined endpoints’ – Berlin, April 2017.

Report on Conferment of the BRCA Data Analysis Award @Karlsruhe Institut für Technologie (KIT)
The BRCA Data Analysis Award was established in Spring 2016 in order to honor innovative scientific work in the framework of statistics and data analysis that focuses on or can promote the prevention of inherited cancer associated with BRCA gene mutations. Tendering of the award was jointly conducted by the International Biometric Society (German Region, IBS-DR), the German Gesellschaft fuer Klassifikation – Data Science Society (GfKl), the International Federation of Classification Societies (IFCS), the non-profit research and development organization HeritX (Santa Monica, USA) and the Center for Familial Breast and Ovarian Cancer (Cologne, Germany).

An international team of reviewers has evaluated the submitted applications and finally awarded Corinna Ernst, a bioinformatician from Cologne at the early stage of her career, who has submitted a paper on “A generalized additive model framework for CNV detection on multi gene panels”. Ms. Ernst developed an algorithm, using generalized additive models, for identifying so-called Copy Number Variations (CNVs), i.e., genetic rearrangements that allow finding new risk genes, beyond the well-known BRCA1/2 genes, directly from observed data obtained from Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and without additional experiments. Former work by Ms. Ernst was devoted to the optimization of various algorithms for analyzing NGS data, the development of a data structure for the storage of pan-genomes, and to a study on relapses of neuroblastomas.

The BRCA Data Analysis Award (1.000 Euro) was conferred to Corinna Ernst by Dr. Hans Kestler (Ulm) on February 24, 2017 during a ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of GfKl in the Castle of Karlsruhe (Baden, Germany) and in cooperation with the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT). Ms. Ernst will present her scientific results to an international audience during the 15th Conference of the IFCS in Tokyo (Japan) in August 2017. We cordially congratulate her on this award and wish her plenty of success for her future research activities.

By Hans-Hermann Bock

BRCA Data Analysis Award (from left to right): Prof. H. Kestler (GfKl), Prof. A. Geyer-Schulz (GfKl), Prof. T. Friede (IBS-DR), laureate Corinna Ernst, Prof. H.-H. Bock (Chair Evaluation Committee), Prof. A. Sokolowski (SKAD, IFCS), Prof. B. Lausen (GfKl).

Axel Benner

Japanese Region (JR)

The 2017 Annual Meeting of the Biometric Society of Japan
The 2017 Annual Meeting of the Biometric Society of Japan (BSJ) was held on 16 – 17 March 2017 at Chuo University, Tokyo, Japan with more than 200 participants. An invited session entitled “Efficient collaboration between biostatisticians and epidemiologists” was organized by Drs. Yoshitaka Murakami (Toho University) and Ayano Takeuchi (Keio University). Practical or methodological issues in epidemiology, including life-course epidemiology and environmental epidemiology, were discussed by six epidemiologists and biostatisticians. Thirty (18 oral and 12 poster) scientific presentations were made, whose topics included statistical methods in early clinical trials, adaptive design methods and statistical modeling of biomedical data. A tutorial on recent advances in causal inference was also presented by three biostatisticians.

The BSJ is pleased to announce that the society conferred the BSJ Award for Outstanding Scientific Contribution on Prof. Hirohisa Kishino (University of Tokyo) for his valuable contributions to various research fields, including marine science, evolutional biology, ecology and agricultural science through statistical modeling. The BSJ Honorary Award was conferred on Dr. Takatoshi Sato (Chiba University) for his long-term contributions to the society, and the Young Biostatisticians Award was conferred on Ms. Kasumi Iwamoto (The Chemo-Sero-Therapeutic Research Institute) and Dr. Junji Moriya (Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co., Ltd.) for their recent publications in Japanese Journal of Biometrics, which is the official journal of the society.

A group photo of organizers and presenters of the invited session “Efficient collaboration between biostatisticians and epidemiologists” – Drs. Mari Oba, Sadao Suzuki, Yoshitaka Murakami, Chris Fook Sheng Ng (from left to right in the front rank), Hirohito Metoki, Takeshi Nishiyama, Ayano Takeuchi and Masahito Hashizume (in the rear rank).

The 2017 Japanese Joint Statistical Meeting
The BSJ is one of the six sponsoring organizations of the meeting to be held on 3 – 6 September at Nanzan University in Nagoya, Japan. The ASA statement on p-values (American Statistician 2016, Vol. 70, No.2, pp129-133) has impacted statistical societies in Japan. The BSJ is organizing an invited session entitled “P-values in medical and agricultural research: beyond the p

Certificate System for Trial Statisticians
Inappropriate treatment of data, such as falsification of data in valsartan clinical trials, has been a serious social problem in Japan. To improve quality of clinical researches, a certification system of trial statisticians for clinical trials has opened.

Satoshi Hattori

Western North American Region (WNAR)

2017 WNAR/IMS Meeting
The 2017 WNAR/IMS Meeting will be in Santa Fe, New Mexico from 25-28 June (hosted by University of New Mexico) and will be held at the Eldorado Hotel and Spa. Santa Fe, New Mexico’s capital city, is at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. It is known for its Pueblo-style architecture and for being a center for multicultural arts. There are many recreational activities available around Santa Fe, including hiking, mountain biking and river rafting. The local organizer is Christina Murray-Krezen. Details about the meeting will be posted on the WNAR web page as they become available.

2017 WNAR Student Paper Competition
WNAR sponsors students who enter the student paper competition. All 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 2017 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 International Biometric Society (IBS) Journal Club is a new initiative, designed by the Education Committee to help members and others network and discuss recent papers published in IBS journals.

Upcoming 2017 Journal Club Dates: August 10, October 12 and December 7 at 15:00 GMT

Organizer and Chair: Jim Todd (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)

Venue: Sessions are presented online and will include both audio and video content. Instructions for access will be made available to all confirmed participants prior to the webinar.

Audience: The IBS Journal Club is open to all IBS members worldwide (not limited to English-speaking natives). Please note that eventually the Journal Club may be open to non-members, but we first plan to evaluate the Club and the views of IBS members.

Registration Fees: Registration is free for IBS members and is limited to 100 members per Journal Club.

Purpose and plan: The purpose is to widen the scope for understanding papers and to provide a new networking opportunity for IBS members through a regular internet forum.

The author of the paper will be asked to make a 20 minute presentation on the paper and its importance. A discussant will also be identified to highlight the main points and raise some relevant questions for a maximum of approximately 10 minutes. The discussion will be opened up to participants for comments, questions and responses to the paper, under the direction of the Chair.

For more information about the Journal Club, please contact IBS Education Committee Members Jim Todd ( or Jaakko Nevalainen ( For information on future club dates in 2017, contact IBS Director of Education, Alphonsus Baggett (

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3 – 7 July
International Conference on Robust Statistics (ICORS) 2017
University of Wollongong, Australia

9 – 13 July
International Society for Clinical Biostatistics 38th Annual Conference
Vigo, Spain

9 – 13 July
Bayesian Methods in Clinical Research
Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel

24 – 28 July
62nd RBras Meeting
Minas Gerais, Brazil

29 July – 3 August
Joint Statistical Meeting
Baltimore, MD, USA

22 – 25 August
IBS SUSAN Regional Conference hosted by the Malawi Region (GMAL)
Umodzi Park, Liongwe, Malawi

28 August – 1 September
Joint Conference of the Central European Network of the IBS& International Society of Biopharmaceutical Statistics (CEN ISBS)
Vienna, Austria

3 – 6 September
2017 Japanese Joint Statistical Meeting
Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan

10 – 14 September
GPol 47th International Biometrical Colloquium
Kiry, Poland

13-15 September 2017
XVI Spanish Biometrics Conference
Sevilla, Spain

24 – 27 October
The Jamaica Statistics Symposium and Pre-conference Workshop Series 2017
“Statistics for Success: Ethics, Data Quality and Security”
Kingston, Jamaica

26 – 30 November
Australasian Regional Conference
Kingscliff, NSW, Australia


25 – 28 March
ENAR Spring Meeting
Atlanta, GA, USA

8 – 13 July
XXIXth International Biometric Conference
Barcelona, Spain

28 July – 2 August
Joint Statistical Modeling
Vancouver, BC, Canada

26 – 30 August
Annual Conference of ISCB and Biennial ASC
Melbourne, Australia


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