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President’s Corner

Hi everyone! There’s always something exciting about entering a new year.  For IBS, the start of 2019 has seen us farewell Elizabeth Thompson as outgoing President and welcome Geert Verbeke as the incoming President.  We have also said goodbye to Havi Murad as Editor of Biometrics Bulletin and welcomed a new Editor, Professor Ajit Sahai from the Indian Region.  Professor Sahai has enjoyed a distinguished career in India and has a lot of experience working with not only the IBS, but also the Indian Society of Medical Statistics.  Please take some time to read his Editor’s Column to learn more about him and also to hear some of his innovative new ideas for the Bulletin. One of Professor Sahai’s ideas has been the addition of Associate Editors to the team.  I am in fact delighted to report that Dr Garth Tarr from Sydney University (check out his profile here) will join as an Associate Editor in charge of Software Corner.  You may have noticed Garth’s name popping up frequently as the author of our Software Corner pieces, so this appointment is a natural one. Garth is eager to hear your ideas and receive your submissions for pieces that can be included in Software Corner. Please email him at

The start of 2019 marks the halfway point of my IBS Presidency.  Not that I am counting the days, but I must say that our multi-regional structure makes for a complex society and it sure is a lot of work to serve as one of the Executive Officers!  As I’ve said before, our strong regional structure is what make our society so exciting and vibrant.  As you know, we are in the throes of upgrading our IBS website and as part of this effort are planning a number of initiatives that will hopefully simplify some aspects of how the Society run. The Communications Committee put in a lot of work last year developing a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting companies to bid on the task of developing a new IBS website.  I am pleased to report that the successful bid came from a company called Higher Logic who specializes in creating not just a static website, but a web-based community where members of organizations like ours can really communicate and engage. We are currently in the throes of designing what the new website will look like and how our community structure might work.  I am grateful that Dr Jürgen Kübler from the German Region has agreed to chair an ad hoc committee charged with providing advice and oversight as we make our transition to this new system.  (visit our website to see a full list of members). Please stay tuned!

Our multi-regional structure in IBS means that almost always there will be an exciting regional conference happening, about to happen or just finished! At the very moment of writing this article, I am attending the IBS German regional meetings in Munich. It is a tradition for the IBS Executive Board to hold its in-person meeting in non-IBC years at one of our regional meetings, so this year we decided to hold our meeting in conjunction with the German Regional meetings. The regional meetings this year are being held in collaboration with 14 other German statistical societies, under the name “DAGStat, Statistics Under One Umbrella”. It is an exciting conference with around 900 attendees and being held in the beautiful main building of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat München. I had the privilege of making some remarks at the opening ceremony. You’ll find here is a picture of me with Andreas Faldum, President of the German Region, and Brad Biggerstaff, IBS Treasurer/Secretary. I of course took the opportunity to lay out some advertising materials from IBC2020 in Seoul (Taerim Lee had kindly carried them all the way from Korea!). I was very impressed with the DAGStat program in terms of the quality and breadth of speakers and topics.  There were four great keynote speakers, including Sara van de Geer from ETH in Switzerland, Per Kragh Anderson from University of Copenhagen in Denmark, Michael Jordan form UC Berkeley in the USA and Donald Rubin from Tsinghua University in China.  I got a chance to sit in on quite a few contributed and invited sessions as well.  A lovely surprise was listening to a presentation by Satoshi Satori in a session on meta-analysis. BecauseSatoshi Chairs the IBS Conference Advisory Committee, he and I communicate often by email, so it was great to be able to greet him in person.  As I left the building at the end of the day, with the sun going down and the moon rising, I was struck by the beauty of Geschwister-Scholl-Platz, which is the semi-circular plaza located in front of the main university building. The Platz is named in memory of a brother and sister who founded a resistance group protesting the Nazi regime during World War II.



An upcoming regional meeting that I am particularly excited about is being organized in Naples by the Italian Region this coming July (see  The Italian Regional President, Professor Clelia Di Serio and fellow officers have always showed great passion and enthusiasm for reaching out and connecting with other regions.  The Naples conference will include special invited sessions organized by the German, Spanish, Eastern Mediterranean and the Eastern North American regions of the IBS.    I am excited about the ENAR session, since I think this might be the first time ENAR has participated in this official way in another IBS regional conference. Professor Giovanni Parmigiani from Harvard has organized the ENAR session called “Recent advances in Multi-study analysis of high dimensional data”.  Here’s the speaker line-up:

  • Marina Vannucci from Rice University: Integrative Bayesian Models of High-Dimensional Count Data
  • Levi Waldron from CUNY School of Public Health: Machine Learning Meta-analysis of Large Metagenomic Datasets: Tools and Biological Insights
  • Roberta DeVito from Princeton University: Multi-study Factor Analysis, Bayesian and Likelihood-based Approaches
  • Lorenzo Trippa, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard University: Theoretical developments in multi-study machine learning.

Doesn’t it sound great!  I’m sure all the other sessions will be excellent as well.  I would love to see more of these kinds of cross-regional collaborations happening.  Don’t forget that there is some funding available from IBS to support such efforts!

Finally, I have to mention the upcoming ISI World Statistics Congress to be held in Kuala-Lumpur in August this year (see for more details).  The IBS and ISI have an active partnership program.   ISI always organizes a special invited session at our IBC meeting while we organize a special invited session at their WSC. The system works really well since their conference is held on the odd years, ours on the even.  For the 2019 WSC, Alison Kelly and Ross Darnell from the Australasian Region have organized an exciting session on behalf of IBS called “Food security for our future”.  Speakers include Yohannes Fekadu from the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture, Elisabetta Carfagna from University of Bologna in Italy, Petra Kuhnert from the CSIRO in Australia and discussion will be provided by Linda Young from the US Department of Agriculture.  Another element of the ISI/IBS collaboration is our Ambassador Program. This involves ISI supporting two of their members to attend our IBC and IBS supporting two of our members to attend the ISI WSC. A call for applications to participate in the Program went out in the latter part of 2018, with deadline closing in late January.  The committee, chaired by Jane Hutton from the British/Irish Region, chose two excellent winners:

  • Serifat Folorunso (Nigerian Region)
  • Sanyantee Jana (Indian Region)

Congratulations to both!

In closing, I thought I would tell you about some of my thoughts triggered by my current reading of a very interesting and thought-provoking book called Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas.  He talks about the growing income inequality being experienced world-wide and how efforts by the billionaire elite to create social justice are in fact just a thinly disguised effort to protect the status quo.  Prompted by my reading, I did a little research on how income inequality is measured and in particular how my own country of Australia stacks up.   Sadly, income inequality in Australia is growing worse with time.  Thinking about this actually ties in quite nicely with the challenges raised by our new Biometric Bulletin Editor (see his column) regarding how to reliably measure various aspects of the world around us, whether this be in the domain of health, environment, economy and so on.  For income inequality, it seems the most common metric is the Gini Coefficient which is a statistic invented by the Italian statistician Gini back in 1912.  The Gini coefficient is a single number between 0 and 1, with 0 meaning perfect equality and 1 meaning all the wealth essentially assigned to 1 person!  I found a particularly clear explanation at  While it can be really instructive to compare Gini coefficients for a single country over time or to compare the coefficients between countries, I find it a bit dry to look at just a single number summary of such a complex issue.  I find it more meaningful to look at a graph such as the one I pulled from Wikipedia. It is easier to wrap one’s mind about a quantity such as the share of income earned by the top 1 percent of the population. It would of course be 1% under perfect equality. The emerging science of data visualisation can help, bringing to the table quantitative know-how, artistic representation as well as psychological insights about how an audience might react. It’s an area I don’t know so much about, though I know that colleagues such as Di Cook from Monash University in Australia or Emi Tanaka from Sydney University think a lot about these sorts of issues have developed some excellent tools. Doing a bit more research on the topic of income inequality, I came across an interesting site that had some thought-provoking discussion on the topic.  This site also included a cartoon which in my opinion captured the idea far more effectively than any numbers could!


From the Editor

Dear IBS members and colleagues,

I have recently been appointed to serve as the new Editor and am optimistic in seeking your cooperation in terms of frequent academic contributions to the Biometric Bulletin. Like the IBS Officers, I strongly believe in nurturing our common scientific interests through this well-established platform of communication, the Biometric Bulletin. Our vision must be vibrant, flexible and interactive in evolving new concepts, as well as refining the existing theories and tools. Moving one step forward in this direction we wish to draw your attention to two new proposals* outlined below at the end.

Oh, I must very humbly introduce myself before inviting you all to actively participate in the ongoing process of shaping the Bulletin and making it better and better. My basic and higher education was achieved at Lucknow in India and I have had the opportunity of serving my profession for more than 45 years (1973 to 2018) in institutions like King George’s Medical University (Dept of Psychiatry) at Lucknow; All India Institute of Medical Sciences (Dept of Gastroenterology and Human Nutrition) at New Delhi; Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (Dept of Preventive and Social Medicine and simultaneously founding the Dept of Medical Biometrics and Informatics) at Pondicherry; all in INDIA.

I have served previously as President of the Indian Society for Medical Statistics (ISMS) and also as Editor of the ISMS Bulletin. I also initiated and founded the Pondicherry State chapters of Indian Public Health Association (IPHA) and Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM) and served as its President and General Secretary.

I am keenly interested in advancing my own knowledge with the latest developments of biometrics applied to scientific domains such as ‘Agriculture & Forestry’, ‘Ecology & Environment’ and ‘Biology & Genetics’.  But by virtue of my inquisitiveness and intuitiveness and also because of my professional background, the disciplines of Medical Biometrics, Biostatistics, Public Health, Population-Epidemiology, Nutrition, Demography, Sampling, Logic & Reasoning, Dynamism of Cosmos & Astronomy and Spiritual health research remain close to my heart and mind.

Being new to the task of Editor I must confess that IBO has come to my rescue in terms of organizing the contents for the very first issue of 2019 Bulletin. I am very much grateful to Ms Kristina Wolford, Director Operations for her continued editorial role and to Professor Louise M Ryan, IBS President for valuable guidance and support from day one of my appointment and even before its formal approval. I also take this opportunity to thank our previous Editors including the talented and enthusiastic outgoing Editor Dr Havi Murad for consistent efforts to improve the contents and the status of the Bulletin throughout her tenure as Biometric Bulletin Editor. Here are my contact details:

Dr Ajit Sahai, M.Sc.(Stats.), Ph.D.(Lko.), FIAPSM, FSMS, FIPHA, FRSS.

Recently – Honorary-Faculty-Consultant, KGMU, and ERA University, Lucknow, INDIA.

Formerly – Professor (Sr-HAG) & Head, Medical Biometrics; JIPMER, Pondicherry, INDIA.


Address for postal communication; Residence: Plot no. 373, House no. 274/208; ‘Sahai-Sadan’; 7th St., RAJENDRA NAGAR, Lucknow – 226 004 – INDIA

*Proposition – 1

In this and each future issue of the Bulletin, I propose to express some of my own, hopefully thought-provoking but probably biased perceptions on broad as well specific basic themes.  I invite your responses, whether these might be corrections, modifications and additional elaborations and explanations, in brief terms, not exceeding 300 words. Eligible responses as per their merits shall be published in the next issue of the Bulletin under a new column ‘Response to Editor’ for larger circulation and for the benefit of the members. This exercise of mutual but educated dialogue and debate can hopefully go a long way in bringing updated clarity on important topics of mutual scientific interest.

Basic Theme – I (Readers’ responses are invited)

If Mathematics is said and believed to be the ‘Mother’ of all Sciences, Statistics should have been considered the younger ‘Sister’ of mathematics. Without statistics, no science could innovate, evolve or progress. Statistics in the plural sense might be thought of as the organized information related to the adjectives used before the term Statistics e.g. Womens Statistics, Hospital Statistics, Environmental Statistics, Sports Statistics and so on and so forth. Whereas, in the singular sense, the term Statistics is understood to be the body of science which deals with;

How to make scientific observations or conduct experimentations choosing appropriate and standardized methodology essentially with suitable study designs and sampling technique and adequate sample size;

How to treat raw data for its conversion to useful information or results using the tools and techniques of descriptive and summary statistics; and

Most importantly how to draw scientific inferences from the results based on samples dealing with components of uncertainties and variability and confronting with possible relativity involved that ultimately to be generalized for the target or even theoretical populations?

Whereas, the term Biometry** was preferred at the very initial stage of the evolution process of applications of statistics to biosciences. Currently, when basic theory of Statistics and its specialized principles, tools, techniques and methods are applied and practiced for a variety of biosciences we prefer to call it the science of Biostatistics. Similarly, the term ’Metrics’ is well recognized as the science of measurement and therefore, shall we claim that Biometrics of course takes up the role exactly similar to that of Biostatistics? Globally both the terms Biostatistics and Biometrics are invariably used to represent each other as an alternate and the domain of applications remains almost similar. But whether the role and use of Biometry or Biostatistics / Biometrics should be considered restricted only to solve data analysis problems, as defined by IBS***, or can also be at designing and planning stages of the experimental or field studies? Medical Biostatistics and Medical Biometrics are the terms coined recently to bring further clarity in their focused applications to medical and health sciences. Therefore, is it desirable to use focused terms like Medical Statistics, Agricultural Statistics, Forestry Statistics, and Ecological and Environmental Statistics and so on? But the question is how helping or confusing the use of these adjectives before Statistics would serve in differentiation between plural and singular sense meaning of the science of Statistics?

Throughout my professional career I was asked frequently by my medical and health colleagues to explain these terms differentiating each other with clarity and my responses were bound to be in line with above thinking.

Reader’s original responses are invited but may be in consultations with the references reproduced hereunder;

**Definition by R.A. Fisher, 1948;

“Biometry, the active pursuit of biological knowledge by quantitative methods.”

***Definition of Biometrics by IBS The terms “Biometrics” and

“Biometry” have been used since early in the 20th century to refer to the field of development of statistical and mathematical methods applicable to data analysis problems in the biological sciences. Statistical methods for the analysis of data from agricultural field experiments to compare the yields of different varieties of wheat, for the analysis of data from human clinical trials evaluating the relative effectiveness of competing therapies for disease, or for the analysis of data from environmental studies on the effects of air or water pollution on the appearance of human disease in a region or country are all examples of problems that would fall under the umbrella of “Biometrics” as the term has been historically used. The journal “Biometrics” is a scholarly publication sponsored by a non-profit professional society (the International Biometric Society) devoted to the dissemination of accounts of the development of such methods and their application in real scientific contexts.

Recently, the term “Biometrics” has also been used to refer to the emerging field of technology devoted to identification of individuals using biological traits, such as those based on retinal or iris scanning, fingerprints, or face recognition. Neither the journal “Biometrics” nor the International Biometric Society is engaged in research, marketing, or reporting related to this technology. Likewise, the editors and staff of the journal are not knowledgeable in this area.

*Proposition – 2

It is proposed to initiate a new regular Column on Innovations in ‘Agriculture & Forestry’, ‘Ecology & Environment’ and ‘Biology & Genetics’ and ‘Health & Disease’; requiring periodic inputs from dedicated professionals. Every issue of the Bulletin may by rotation be focused on one of those four core subject areas of relevance to biometry.  Furthermore, the specific dimensions or sub-divisions of each core area of Biometry may get their own due weightings as per their relevance. I am particularly eager for contributions related to innovations in measurement in these various applications areas.  Such measurements may be focused either at macro level addressing larger communities, societies or countries or alternatively focused at micro levels. For example, the WHO recognizes four dimensions of health including Physical, Mental, Social and Spiritual health, all of which should be respected equally. Innovative ideas on how to measure the health of a large society or an individual subject or smaller groups of individuals like family and household for any dimension of health are most welcomed to be published in the next issue of the Bulletin. The fact that measuring disease is still easier than measuring any dimension of health even for the purpose of its grading or certifying an individual to be perfectly healthy or in the state of absolute health. WHO# defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, social and spiritual ‘wellbeing’ and not merely absence of disease or ‘infirmity’. Statistically measuring and decoding loaded terms such as ‘wellbeing’ or ‘infirmity’ is still a challenge for any physician, even in the twenty first century. Innovative efforts in the direction of measurement including identification, suggestions and recommendations for consideration of potential or major domains, factors and variables for each specific dimension of health shall be of great help in refining the assessment and grading the health of an individual subject or even for the health of a community or society.

#Thirty-seventh World Health Assembly, Resolution WHA37.13. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1984. WHO document WHA37/1984/REC/1:6.

#Review of the Constitution of the World Health Organization: Report of the Executive Board Special Group 101st Session. Agenda Item 7.3. 22 January 1998. Geneva: World Health Organization.

Meet your IBO Staff

As we kick off with a new year here at the International Biometric Office, we want to introduce you to familiar and new faces of the IBO. We look forward to working with you and your Region in 2019. If you have any questions or comments, you can reach us by email at

Peter Doherty, CAE, Executive Director

        • Governance and IBC oversite
        • Support for officers and Executive Board members
        • Accounting and budgeting functions and contract review
        • Committee Liaison: Conference Advisory Committee, Budget and Finance Committee, Nominating Committee, Past Presidents, President/Incoming, President Transition, Secretary/Treasurer

Kristina Wolford, Director of Operations

        • Operations and workflow management
        • Publications support manager (Biometrics, JABES, JSTOR and Biometric Bulletin
        • Webinars and e-learning
        • IBC abstract and presenter management
        • Committee Liaison: Representative Council, Editorial Advisory Committee, Education Committee, International Program Committee, Local organizing Committee

Amanda Bignall, Membership and Travel Awards Manager

        • Communications management
        • IBS website content management
        • Staff support
        • Committee Liaison: Awards Fund Committee, Committee on Communications, Social Media Liaison

Starr Ellis, Membership Coordinator

        • Liaison to IBS members and membership renewals
        • E-blast and member communications
        • Database management
        • Staff support

Taalibah Muhammad, Membership Administrator

  • Staff support


International Biometric Society 30th International Biometric Conference

Short Course and Invited Session Proposals

Thank you to all of those who submitted a proposal to present a Short Course or Invited Session during the 30th International Biometric Conference in Seoul Korea.  All proposals have been handed to the appropriate committee for review.  You can expect an update on your proposal in April 2019.

IBS Awards Update

Travel Awards

The IBS Awards Fund Committee is pleased to announce that the first round of travel award winners for 2019 have been chosen! Congratulations to the following members:

Atanu Bhattacharjee, Indian Region

Luis Fernando Grajales Hernández, Central American and Caribbean Region

Satyabrata Pal, Indian Region

Paulo Canas Rodrigues, Brazilian Region

Gajendra Vishwakarma, Indian Region

These recipients were chosen by the committee via a blind judging system. Out of over twenty applicants, these members scored highest on the scaling system. The second round of the Travel Grant Application period is open! As a member, if you are interested in attending a conference in 2019, either in your own region or outside your region, but don’t have the resources to attend, please consider applying for a travel grant. This is a competitive program with limited funding, and grants will not exceed $2,000 USD in 2019. We thank all the regions that contributed to this fund to make this possible.

Joint ISI + IBS Initiative for 2019 World Statistics Conference

The International Statistical Institute (ISI) and the International Biometric Society (IBS) have jointly selected two young statisticians to participate in the International Statistics Institute (ISI) World Statistics Conference (WSC) 2019 being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 18 – 23 August, 2019.

Congratulations to the two Young Statisticians. We will look forward to reading their report in a later issue this year!

Serifat Folorunso, Nigerian Region

Sanyantee Jana, Indian Region


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 Bulleting, you will be able to read their experiences. We hope you enjoy!

Jesca Mercy Batidzirai, University of KwaZulu – Natal, South Africa

The IBS conference was very much need for my research. It came just at the right time of my PhD and the sessions were very helpful. Presentations in those sessions were grouped according to the areas of research and I gained a lot from the Multi-state, the Survival Analysis and the Multilevel sessions because they are directly linked to my PhD work.

I made many international contacts from the researchers who are working in the same area as mine and I look forward to future collaborations with them in publications. We will also continue exchanging ideas and consulting each other where and when we need help. IBC was the right platform to bring researchers from the same field together and for me, it just had a huge impact.

I got some feedback from my oral presentation and I will implement those comments to my PhD work so that it will be of improved standards. Even journal submission from that work should have smaller chances of being rejected because the experts commented on my work.

It’s unfortunate that I missed the short courses which I had paid for. Because of the flight and travel delays, I arrived late on Sunday, but I know for sure that I was going to learn a lot from the interval- censored data course since the data that I am working on is characterized of interval censoring.

Socially, I loved Barcelona. The beach, the cleanliness of the city, the Catalonians: such happy and friendly people. The list is endless. I even met people from IBS- SUSAN who we hope to meet at the conference in South Africa in 2019. I thank IBS for the great opportunity to improve my work.

Clarice Garcia Borges Demétrio, Brazil

Activities during IBC2018

I activily participated in many activities duing the IBC2018. I was able to attend different types of sessions, specifically, I presented the oral presentation: “Reparametrization of COM-Poisson Regression Models with Applications in the Analysis of Experimental Data”, authored by Eduardo E Ribeiro Jr, Walmes M. Zeviani, Wagner H. Bonat, Clarice G.B. Demétrio and John Hinde.

I was also co-author of two additional presentations: “Conditional and marginal models for analyzing light interception data”, authored by Rafael A. Moral, Wagner H. Bonat, John Hinde, Clarice G.B. Demétrio, Marina Duarte, presented by Rafael A. Moral as one of the selected talks for the Young Statisticians Showcase. And also, “Statistical analysis of overdispersed fungus germination data”, authored by M.B. Fatoretto; R.A. moral; C.G. B. Demétrio, presented by M.B. Fatoretto as an oral presentation.

Additionally, I participated in the IBS Past-President meeting and the Representative Council Meeting.

The International Biometric Society is the most international among the Statistical Societies. Having IBC’s around the world give a strong motivation for more people to join the Society and making it even more international. The IBC program concentrates on the various aspects of statistical modelling, including methodological developments, computational methods and Biometry applications. It is a chance for internationalization of knowledge through the exchange of information and experience between students and scientists and a change to strengthen the international network of statistics.

I would like to highlight the Young Statistician Showcase because the future of the society depends on motivating young people to attend the IBC.

This trip to Barcelona also gave the opportunity to attend the Workshop on Multivariate Count Analysis, organized by Célestin Kokonendji, in Besançon, France, from 4 to 6 of July and give an invited talk on “Reparametrization of COM-Poisson Regression Models with Applications in the Analysis of Experimental Data”.

Biometrical Journal

By: Dankmar Böhning (Southampton) and Marco Alfò (Rome)

Biometrical Journal is published as a Wiley journal in cooperation with and under the oversight of the German and Austrian-Swiss Region of the International Biometric Society.

Biometrical Journal publishes papers on statistical methods and their applications to data arising in all life sciences including medicine, environmental sciences and agriculture. Methodological developments should be motivated by an interesting and relevant problem from these areas. Case studies, review articles and letters to the editors are also welcome.

Editors are currently Marco Alfò (Rome) and Dankmar Böhning (Southampton) supported by the coordinating editor Antonello Maruotti (Rome). The team is completed by more than 40 Associate Editors all over the globe.

During the last few years, Biometrical Journal has strongly moved (or has put a considerable effort) towards supporting reproducible research. Authors are strongly encouraged to submit computer code and data sets used to illustrate new methods. Once these are checked for reproducibility, they are published as supporting information on the journal’s webpage once the paper was accepted for publication. Currently the reproducible research editor is Fabian Scheipl (Munich).

The impact factor of Biometrical Journal is 1.114 at the moment and the journal has a rejection rate of about 64%. Currently, our median response time to first decision after submission is less than 2 months. More details on the journal can be found here.

Recent highlights in Biometrical Journal were a discussion paper by Dan Jackson and Ian White on the normality assumption in meta-analysis and a discussion paper by Stefan Wellek on the p-value controversy. Other highlights will be upcoming special issues on multiple comparison procedures, on the ISCB conference 2017 in Vigo under the themes “Advanced Topics in Biostatistics” and the CEN ISBS conference 2017 in Vienna under the topic “Quantifying Life – Advancing Research – Enabling Decisions”.  The paper by Stefan Wellek on p-values was the most downloaded paper in 2017 followed by a paper by Tim Friede, Christian Röver, Simon Wand and Beat Neuenschwander on Meta-analysis of two studies in the presence of heterogeneity with applications in rare diseases.

Clarice G.B. Demétrio (RBras), Past President of the IBS, doctor honoris causa of Hasselt University, Belgium

On May 15, 2019, the Flemish Interuniversity Council’s North-South collaboration celebrated its twentieth anniversary by awarding five doctor honoris causa to scientists active in international collaboration of a North-South type, i.e., one honor for each one of the five Flemish universities.

Clarice Demétrio, Past President of IBS, is honored by Hasselt University, which brings prestige to the IBS as well as to the field of biometry.

Clarice G.B. Demétrio holds a Degree in Agronomy, Master and PhD degrees in Applied Statistics to Agriculture, as well as a Post-Doctorate from Imperial College in London. She has been working, at ESALQ, part of the university of São Paulo system, as a biometrician, mainly, with scientists from agriculture. A large part of her work is also highly relevant for biomedical sciences and public health.

Clarice Demétrio has built single handed a strong international biometric network between Brazil and the rest of the world, in truly South-North, North-South, and South-South fashion.

She has spent research visits, some extended, in various parts of the world: in the North: the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, France, Belgium, Ireland, Canada, Denmark, Israel, and Austria; in the South: South Africa and Argentina. Especially the longer sojourns, earlier in her career, in the United Kingdom, including Imperial College and Oxford, have given her a 360-degree view on the scientific world. She has since been working tirelessly to bring biometrical sciences to Brazil and to make sure that generation upon generation of Brazilian biometric researchers could profit from international experience. In short, she has brought the world to Brazil, and Brazil to the world!

She has taught short and longer courses all over the world: in the North: Belgium, France, and the United States: in the South: Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, and Benin. In many countries she has taught multiple courses; these include, evidently, her own Brazil, but also Argentina and, of note, Belgium, where she has been a regular visiting faculty member in the Master of Statistics at Hasselt University.

Clarice has given a large number of invited talks worldwide as well as in Brazil. While traveling, she always keeps an eye on the scientific and educational benefits for her own country.

An impressive achievement is that she brought top visiting faculty from around the world to Brazil. Over the years, she has organized shorter and longer visits of roughly 100 top scholars, to Piracicaba as well as other institutions in Brazil. The occasions giving rise to such visits are conferences, courses taught by visitors in regular Brazilian programs, short courses, and research visits. Really many of these visitors are considered among the world leaders. For example, David Cox and Norm Breslow visited Brazil per Clarice’s initiative; both are doctor honoris causa of Hasselt University. Another famous name is John Nelder, the founder of the generalized linear model theory, within which she has placed a large fraction of her research career.

Extremely important is the fact that she has worked tirelessly to secure opportunities, including funding, for Brazilian PhD students, postdocs, and junior faculty, to visit fine departments in the North, so as to expose them to the international scientific community. Within I-BioStat, over the years, we have been welcoming nearly 10 Brazilian visitors in this way.

Clarice authored and co-authored over 90 papers in the peer-reviewed literature and 6 books.

Clarice Demétrio has been very important in the international learned society community. In particular, her dedication to the International Biometric Society (IBS) started very early. She has been a member of IBS since 1975, and served as President (1990-92, 1998-2000, 2002-04), Vice-President (1988-90, 1996-98), Secretary (1978-80, 1980-82), Treasurer (1982-84), and Council member (1984-86, 1992-94, 2000-02, 2004-06, 2006-09) of the Brazilian Region (RBRAS) of IBS. She served as an international council member of IBS (1990-93, 1998-2001, 2002-05), associate editor for Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics (1993-2008), a member of the Editorial Advisory Committee (1995-2009), a member of the Strategic Plan Committee (2001-2010), a member of the International Biometric Conference Local Organizing Committee for  IBC1998 and IBC2010, and a member of the IBC International Program Committee for IBC2006 and IBC2010.

Clarice also served a two-year term as International IBS President (2012-2013), in companion with Vice-President terms (2011 and 2014). Among the 37 presidents that the IBS has had since 1947, she is the only one from the South so far.

She is a member of the selection committee for the prestigious International Prize in Statistics.

While taking up so many high-profile international roles, she never forgot nor neglected her own country, university, and department. She served as chair of the department, university-wide council member, and director of the Master Program in Exact Sciences, at multiple time intervals.

It surprises no one that Clarice received several honors:

  • The Herman Callaert Leadership Award in Biostatistics Education and Dissemination, 2016, from Hasselt University.
  • The Rob Kempton Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Development of Biometry in the Developing World, 2010, from the International Biometric Society.

For all her achievements and dedication to academic South-North, North-South, and South-South collaboration, for being such a strong role model, and for the successes that she has accumulated, we can think of no better person than Clarice G.B. Demétrio to receive the high honor of a VLIR inspired Honorary Doctorate.

Clarice, with her husband Dema and grandchildren

Clarice, at an early point in her career (sitting, middle)

Editorial Updates


June 2019 Issue Highlights

The June Biometric Methodology section opens with a Discussion paper by Andrew Chapple and Peter Thall on “A hybrid Phase I-II/III clinical trial design allowing dose re-optimization in Phase III.” Eric Leifer, Nancy Geller, Tianjian Zhou and Yuan Ji contribute to the discussion. A second Discussion paper is by Yang Li, Yuetian Luo, Davide Ferrari, Xiaonan Hu, and Yichen Qin on “Model confidence bounds for variable selection,” with discussions by Gerda Claeskens, Maarten Jansen, Hannes Leeb, Benedikt Pötscher, and Danijel Kivaranovic. A selection of further papers includes “Log-ratio lasso: Scalable, sparse estimation for log-ratio models,” by Stephen Bates and Robert Tibshirani, “Exact inference on the random-effects model for meta-analyses with few studies,” by Michael Haben, Suzanne Thornton, Minge Xie, and Lu Tian, “A smoothing-based goodness-of-fit test of covariance and functional data,” by Stephanie Chen, Luo Xiao, and Ana-Maria Staicu, “Linked matrix factorization,” by Michael O’Connell and Eric Lock, “A modified partial likelihood score method for Cox regression with covariate error under the internal validation design,” by David Zucker, Xin Zhou, Xiaomei Liao, Yi Li, and Donna Spiegelman, and “Dependence modeling for recurrent event times subject to right-censoring with D-vine copulas,” by Nicole Barthel, Candida Geerdens, Claudia Czado, and Paul Janssen.

Among the papers in the Biometric Practice section are “Bagging and deep learning in optimal individualized treatment rules,” by Xinlei Mi, Fei Zou, and Ruoqing Zhu, “A Bayesian hidden Markov model for detecting differentially methylated regions,” by Tieming Ji, “Generalized causal inferences from individuals in randomized trials to all trial-eligible individuals,” by Isa Dahabreh, Sarah Robertson, Eric Tchetgen-Tchetgen, Elizabeth Stuart, and Miguel Hernán, and “Causal comparative effectiveness analysis of dynamic continuous-time treatment initiation rules with sparsely measured outcomes and death,” by Liangyuan Hu and Joseph Hogan.

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” and “Accepted Article” programs of Wiley. Practically, they 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 (or

simply clicking on the Biometrics front cover image that is displayed on the opening portal, on the right hand side), and accessing the “Click here to access electronic copies of Biometrics” link.

Report of the Editors Highlights

As usual, the March 2019 issue contains as the lead article the “Report of the Editors – 2018,” which presents journal statistics for 2018.  Some highlights from the Report:

  • Biometrics received 608 new submissions to the Biometric Methodology and Biometric Practice sections of Biometrics in 2018, plus four Reader Reaction articles and two Letters to the Editors.  This number of submissions to Methodology and Practice is similar to the 603 submissions received in 2017 and 617 in 2016.
  • Of the 60 submissions in 2018, 425 (69.9%) were to Biometric Methodology, compared to 74.0% in 2017, 73.4% in 2016, 66.8% in 2015, and 66.7% in 2014. So, while the proportion Biometric Methodology submissions had gone up to roughly three quarters over 2016-2017, as opposed to two thirds over 2014-2015, this proportion is now below 70% again, which evidently implies that we are receiving a slightly higher fraction in the Biometric Practice section.
  • The 608 new manuscript submissions came from 39 countries/districts. The greatest proportion of submissions was from the USA (59.7%); followed by the United Kingdom (4.9%), P. R. China (4.4%), Canada (4.0%), India (2.5%), Japan (2.3%), and France (2.1%).  Each of the remaining countries/districts contributed less than 2.0% of the total new submissions.
  • In 2018, Biometrics published 101 Biometric Methodology papers and 42 Biometric Practice papers.

More information is available in the full Report.

Editorial Board News

Co-Editor Malka Gorfine’s term will conclude on 31 December 2019, so her successor must be identified.  We follow the geographical convention that has been in place since the inception of the three CE system, which dictates that at any time the three CEs are from Europe, North America, and locations outside of Europe and North America.  Malka is from Rest of World (ROW), so she should be succeeded by a new CE from that same region. A search committee has been formed, consisting of Geert Molenberghs, Biometrics Executive Editor, Chair (Belgian Region); Malka Gorfine, Biometrics CE (EMR); Debashis Ghosh, Biometrics CE (ENAR); Mark Brewer, Biometrics CE (British & Irish Region); Hans-Peter Piepho, EAC Chair (German Region); Andrea Lavalle, EAC member (Argentinian Region); Ruth King, EAC member (British & Irish Region). The result of the search will be reported in a future column.

Associate Editors (AEs) for Biometrics serve two-year, renewable terms that start on 1 July of each year.  Each year, roughly half of the AEs have terms ending on 30 June; accordingly, each Spring, the Co-Editors review the expertise of the current AEs and submission trends with an eye toward possibly bringing on new AEs with expertise that is underrepresented or may be lost by AE retirements.  The CEs welcome suggestions at any time from the IBS membership regarding individuals who may be excellent choices to serve as AEs.  Please send suggestions, along with a CV or URL where the individual’s qualifications may be found, to the journal Editorial Managers, (Ms. Chantal Brodie and Ms. Ann Hanhart), at Self-nominations will be considered.

Journal of Agricultural Biological, and Environmental Statistics (JABES) 

Editor Report

I am very excited to make my first report for the Biometric Bulletin as editor-in-chief of JABES!   Over the past 23 years, JABES has been established as a leading venue for methodological development and application in agricultural, biological and environmental statistics.  Moving forward, I envision JABES maintaining its presence in these areas and hosting more research on emerging topics such as machine-learning and high-dimensional methods as pertinent to environmental statistics.    If you are working in these areas, please consider JABES as the outlet for your next paper.  We look forward to helping you promote your work.

The first order of business is to thank the out-going editor Steve Buckland of the University of St. Andrews for his years of outstanding service.  As an author I always appreciated his timely and thoughtful reviews and as his successor I am grateful that he has left the journal in such great shape and for his generous help during the transition.  Thanks, Steve!

The March issue includes the following papers:  “Bayesian Dynamic Linear Models for Estimation of Phenological Events from Remote Sensing Data” by Margaret Johnson, Petruţa C. Caragea, Wendy Meiring, C. Jeganathan and Peter M. Atkinson; “Developing Integer Calibration Weights for Census of Agriculture” by Luca Sartore, Kelly Toppin, Linda Young and Clifford Spiegelman; “Non-Gaussian Covariate-Dependent Spatial Measurement Error Model for Analyzing Big Spatial Data” by Vahid Tadayon and Abdolrahman Rasekh; “Extreme Value-Based Methods for Modeling Elk Yearly Movements” by Dhanushi A. Wijeyakulasuriya, Ephraim M. Hanks, Benjamin A. Shaby and Paul C. Cross; “Insights of Global Sensitivity Analysis in Biological Models with Dependent Parameters” by Julien Sainte-Marie and Paul-Henry Cournède; “Modeling and Prediction of Multiple Correlated Functional Outcomes” by Jiguo Cao, Kunlaya Soiaporn, Raymond J. Carroll and David Ruppert; “Emulated Multivariate Global Sensitivity Analysis for Complex Computer Models Applied to Agricultural Simulators” by Daniel W. Gladish, Ross Darnell, Peter J. Thorburn and Bhakti Haldankar; “Estimation of Population Size When Capture Probability Depends on Individual States” by Hannah Worthington, Rachel S. McCrea, Ruth King and Richard A. Griffiths’ and “Review of Bayesian Regression Modelling with INLA by Xiaofeng Wang, Yu Ryan Yue, and Julian J. Faraway” by Kathryn Morrison.

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

Please follow us on Twitter:  @JabesEditor.

Brian Reich
Editor in Chief

Software Corner 

Predictive modeling and performance assessment with the caret package

Garth Tarr and Sarah Romanes, The University of Sydney, Australia

The Classification and REgression Training (caret) R package was first published on CRAN way back in 2007, and despite it being incredibly useful, there are still far too many people who have never heard of it! The caret package provides a consistent interface to a huge variety of model training and prediction methods. At the time of writing there are 238 different methods available in the caret package ranging from standard linear regression, to random forests (or ferns), to eXtreme Gradient Boosting (xgboost) methods. The unified interface makes it easy to run a variety of methods, select tuning parameters, and compare performance.

For illustration purposes, let’s consider the glass data set from the mlbench package which has 214 observations with 9 variables (chemical elements) that can be used to predict the type of glass (there are 7 different types).

With the caret package, we will apply linear discriminant analysis (LDA), classification and regression trees (CART), support vector machines (SVM) and random forests (RF) to try to predict the type of glass. To build any predictive model, caret uses the train() function, which has this basic form:

In the example below we specify:

  • a model formula,
  • a performance metric used to select the optimal model (overall accuracy),
  • a preprocessing vector that specifies any preprocessing to be done to the predictors (center and scale),
  • and training control specification that determines how the training of the model should be done.

Our training control parameter says that we would like to perform 10-fold cross validation, i.e. the data will be randomly split into 10 chunks, for each of the 10 chunks a model will be trained on the 9 remaining chunks and performance will be assessed against the accuracy relative to the held out chunk. The reported accuracies will be the average over the 10 iterations. In this way we get a better indication of the out-of-sample performance of each classifier than if we were to train and test on the same data set which might lead to over-fitting or at the very least overconfidence in the predictive ability of our model.

We can collect the resampling results using the resamples() function. When we apply the summary() function to the results, a table of performance measures is printed out. However, we can also visualising these collected results using the ggplot() function, which shows that the random forest tends to perform best and linear discriminant analysis performs worst in terms of overall classification accuracy.


The most fantastic thing about the caret package, apart from the huge range of methods that it covers, is how easy it is to assess out-of-sample accuracy. In the above example, we have performed one round of 10 fold cross validation, however we know that results can vary from one cross validation iteration to the next, so if instead we wanted to perform repeated 10-fold cross validation, we simply update the trainControl() specification as follows:

If we ran it all again, we would see results averaged over 10 repeats of 10-fold cross validation. This is a good idea because there is inherent randomness in any round of cross validation, so performing the whole procedure a few times (with a new random split each time) and averaging over the different splits leads to more reliable out-of-sample prediction accuracies (as can be seen with the narrower error bars).

For anyone who does predictive modeling, the caret package is well worth investigating. It is often the case that biometricians might not know, a priori, which algorithm is going to perform best for a given problem. The caret package makes it easy to switch between different methods and compare methods in a rigorous way. It also facilitates grid search over various parameters to help identify optimal parameter choices. The author, Max Kuhn, has created extensive documentation at this website and also has a book, Applied Predictive Modeling that covers many use cases in detail.

There are a few other packages that do similar things that are also worth checking out that aim to achieve similar functionality:

MLR: Machine Learning in R (or the future replacement mlr3)

ClassifyR: A framework for cross-validated classification problems, with applications to differential variability and differential distribution testing.

If there’s a package or software tool that makes your life easier and you’d like to share it with the IBS community, please submit an expression of interest to Garth Tarr for an article to appear in the Software Corner!

STRengthening Analytical Thinking for Observational Studies (STRATOS): Introducing the High-dimensional Data topic group (TG9)

McShane L, Rahnenführer J, on behalf of STRATOS TG9 (2019)

This article continues the series describing 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) and Causal inference (TG7) were presented. In this issue, we introduce the STRATOS Topic Group 9 (TG9): High-dimensional data, and we report on current activities. Whereas TGs 1-7 started in 2013, TG9 was launched in 2016.

Members of TG9 are: Co-chairs Lisa McShane (USA) and Jörg Rahnenführer (Germany); Federico Ambrogi (Italy), Axel Benner (Germany), Harald Binder (Germany), Anne-Laure Boulesteix (Germany), Tomasz Burzykowski (Belgium), Riccardo De Bin (Norway), W. Evan Johnson (USA), Lara Lusa (Slovenia), Stefan Michiels (France), Eugenia Migliavacca (Switzerland), Sherri Rose (USA), Willi Sauerbrei (Germany).

The mission of TG9 is to provide guidance for the design, analysis and interpretation of studies involving high-dimensional biological and medical data, such as omics-data and data from electronic health record studies. TG9 will conduct an overview of existing and emerging methods pertinent to high-dimensional biomedical data settings, providing explanations, evaluations, and comparisons, based on analytical arguments and simulation studies. A collection of illustrative examples comprising such data sets together with in-depth evaluation and discussion of applicable statistical and computational approaches are being developed. The examples will be used to reinforce concepts and support specific recommendations for best practices. Didactic material including worked examples will be accumulated in a freely available resource.

Several subtopics within the overall scope of TG9 were identified, many of which overlap with other topic groups. When there is overlap, TG9 will address those aspects of each subtopic that are particularly important for high-dimensional data. Data Pre-processing is a crucial first step in the analysis, e.g., to remove noise representing experimental artifacts. Data Reduction refers to the selection of prototypic observations or variables, or the construction of new summary variables. Exploratory Data Analysis is important for quality control and for elucidating structure in the data. Multiple Testing is a frequent challenge in high-dimensional data analysis, due to the large number of variables and exploratory analyses typically performed. Prediction Modeling is a frequent objective in studies with high-dimensional data that has required novel application of existing methods from statistics and machine learning as well as development of new approaches. Increasing availability of large biomedical databases may introduce new opportunities for use of Comparative Effectiveness and Causal Inference methods which may require adaptations for high-dimensional data. Data Simulation Methods for generating data with complexity characteristic of high-dimensional data are important tools to evaluate and compare analytic methods, and to develop recommendations for analytic methods for which theoretical properties are difficult or even impossible to derive.

The group convened for two workshops with the majority of the group members attending. The workshops took place in Germany, at TU Dortmund University, March 20-23, 2018, and Ludwig-Maximilian Universität München, December 2-7, 2018. During the workshops, the group defined its strategy and prioritized its aims. Initial goals defined were preparation of three papers and development of real data examples that will be useful to illustrate various pre-processing and analysis strategies for different types of high-dimensional biomedical data. The first paper will provide a gentle introduction to common scientific goals and statistical methods at a conceptual level geared toward researchers having little experience with high-dimensional data. The second paper (or possibly set of papers) will offer basic guidance for selection of analysis approaches, with discussion of special considerations for high-dimensional data that motivate consideration of analytic tools beyond traditional statistical methods. The third paper will offer guidance on simulation of high-dimensional data.

In the introductory paper, considerations and challenges for aspects of high-dimensional data analysis including data pre-processing, data reduction, exploratory data analysis, multiple testing, and prediction modeling, will be discussed. For each aspect, examples of research questions along with commonly used analysis methods will be briefly described. Instances in which analysis methods developed for low-dimensional data are inadequate for high-dimensional settings will be highlighted, and key issues requiring further research will be discussed.

The analytical methods paper, or set of papers, will describe some basic analysis approaches that may be considered for data pre-processing and reduction, exploratory analyses such as clustering, multiple testing corrections, and prediction modeling. Each method discussed will be illustrated with real data examples that are publicly accessible and that cover a range of data types. When possible, comparisons of results obtained using multiple analysis approaches will be presented. Computer scripts will be provided to allow researchers the opportunity for hands-on practice implementing the methods.

The paper providing guidance for simulation studies will contain recommendations for planning, conducting and reporting. Simulation studies are an important tool to obtain reproducible and objective evidence about individual and comparative performance of various methods in controlled scenarios. Ideally one would evaluate methods on both real and simulated data. However, high-dimensional data are often generated to address complex research questions. Analysis methods may be correspondingly tailored. Given the wide range of specialized data and analysis approaches, often there will not be a sufficient number of data sets available for evaluation and comparison of methods for every situation. For answering complex research questions, truth may not even be known. Therefore, for high-dimensional data, a heavier reliance on simulated data may be necessary for method performance assessment.

Talks on behalf of TG9 were presented by Axel Benner at the CEN-IBS (Central European Network of the International Biometrics Society) conference (Vienna, Austria, August 2017), by Jörg Rahnenführer, Harald Binder and Axel Benner at the GMDS (German Association for Medical Informatics, Biometry and Epidemiology) conference (Oldenburg, Germany, September 2017), by Lisa McShane, Tomasz Burzykowski, Riccardo de Bin and Willi Sauerbrei at TU Dortmund University (Dortmund, Germany, March 2018) and by Lisa McShane, Willi Sauerbrei and Jörg Rahnenführer at LMU (Munich, Germany, December 2018).

Region News

Australasian Region (AR) 

Introducing IBS-AR President, Alan Welsh

At the Australasian Region’s AGM, Alan Welsh was elected President for 2019-20.  Alan writes…

I am very pleased and honoured to be the incoming President of the Australasian Region (IBS-AR).  IBS-AR is very important in my professional life and I count many friends in the membership, so I look forward to this opportunity to serve IBS-AR and work with the Regional Council to contribute directly to its future development.

I would like to thank the outgoing president Samuel Müller for his leadership and the many other contributions he made to IBS-AR during his presidency.  He has done excellent work with the Regional Council to develop IBS-AR and position us for the future.  Of course, no President can achieve anything without the help and support of the Regional Council which works very hard for IBS-AR.  I would therefore also like to acknowledge and thank the past Regional Council for their contributions.

As usual, a new IBS-AR President starts in a conference year, and planning is already well under way for our regional conference to be held in December in Adelaide.  I hope many of you will be able to attend.

Regional Conference, Adelaide, 2-6 December 2019

Make a note in your diary and book the first week in December 2019, for coming to Adelaide, South Australia. The preparation is well under way for the Australasian meeting of the Society on 2-6, December 2019. Short courses and workshops on a range of topics will be presented on Monday, 2 December, with the main conference running from Tuesday – Friday. 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. The list of speakers includes international and Australasian statisticians at various stages of their careers, currently: Daniela Bustos-Korts, James Carpenter, Claudia Czado, Joanne De Faveri, Max Moldovan and Christopher Wikle. More information will be available soon on the conference website, For expressions of interests and enquires please contact Prof Alan Welsh ( or Dr Olena Kravchuk (

Congratulations to Rachel Fewster

Congratulations to IBS-AR member Dr Rachel Fewster (The University of Auckland), who was recently awarded the New Zealand Statistical Association’s highest accolade, the Campbell Award ( for her sustained contribution to the promotion and development of statistics. Rachel has an exceptional and sustained body of work developing improved methodology for estimation of population size and for understanding population dynamics, especially for endangered species and invasive species. For many years Rachel has actively consulted with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation and Regional Councils. She created the “CatchIT” citizen science project, whereby individuals and community groups enter their monitoring and trapping data into online software, and directly see the value of statistics through the interactive graphics and animations produced. The system now hosts data from hundreds of community groups. Rachel has also received several teaching awards, including twice being a recipient of New Zealand’s National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award.

Vanessa Cave

British and Irish Region (BIR)

Career-young biometrician bursaries

Five career-young biometricians were recently awarded bursaries, from the IBS British and Irish region jointly with the Fisher Memorial Trust, to attend the XXIXth International Biometric Conference in Barcelona from 8th-13th July. Following a highly competitive application process with submissions judged on the use of biometrics to tackle an applied problem, the quality of the approach and the enthusiasm of the candidate for their research area, awards were made to: Laura Boyle (Queen’s University Belfast), Peter Godolphin (University of Nottingham), Marina Jiminez-Munoz (University of Kent), Simon Newsome (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), and Haiyan Zheng (Lancaster University). All five reported an enjoyable and interesting conference experience, with plenty of opportunities for initiating new collaborations and generating new research ideas, not to mention exploring the city with new friends!

Scientific Events

Our region organised two recent meetings, bringing together our regional members for interesting and informative events, often with lively discussions.

Our first meeting focused on “the Modern Bootstrap”, held in a warm Spring afternoon at the London Mathematical Society in London. After kicking off with an introductory talk featuring TVs “the Simpsons”, Richard Everitt (University of Reading), Adriana Cornea-Madeira (University of York) and Alistair Young (Imperial College London) then talked on a range of issues related to the modern bootstrap. The day had a clear practical focus and attendees left with plenty of ideas for improved bootstrapping in their own areas of work. Equally, there was enough beautiful mathematics presented to keep even the great Hardy happy!

Our second meeting was entitled “Statistical challenges in utilizing Electronic Health Records for medical research”, held in September also at the London Mathematical Society. Speakers Angela Wood (University of Cambridge), John Tazare (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine), Elizabeth Williamson (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine), Harvey Goldstein (University of Bristol) and Peter Diggle (Lancaster University) spoke on a range of topics, including landmarking, the high-dimensional propensity score, linkage errors, and spatial health surveillance.

Elizabeth Williamson

Central American Caribbean Region (RCAC)

The Jamaica Statistical Society was established on November 1, 2013.  In celebration of its 5th anniversary of existence, its first Biennial Mini-Symposium themed “Shaping Jamaica’s Road Safety Policy Using Statistics” was held at the Main Library Multi-Functional Room on the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus in Kingston, Jamaica, on Nov 1, 2018. The Mini-Symposium featured of a variety of guest speakers from various organizations such as the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Mona Geo-informatics Institute (MGI), The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and UWI Department of Community Health and Psychiatry. Speakers highlighted the data available within their respective organisations that could be used to examine factors related to road safety and guide policy development relating to road safety.  Speakers from the JCF and the NRSC revealed patterns in data on road traffic accidents while the speaker form the MGI explained to the audience possible relationships between road features and road fatalities.  The possibly role of substance use in road safety was also highlighted the panel discussion that ended the Mini-Symposium sessions.  Presenters and participants expressed interest in collaborating with the JSS in research using road safety data.  The JSS executive wishes to explore the interests expressed.  The JSS intends to continue to stage biennially, a Mini-Symposium that highlights the possibilities for use of data in finding solutions to national problems and in policy development.


The 29th Colombian Statistical Symposium will be held in Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia, July 15-19, 2019.  Listed below are the speakers who will be giving presentations on the various topics (shown in brackets).

Speakers (Subject)

Brenda Betancour – University of Florida, Gainesville – USA. (Bayesian Linkage)

Daniel Peña- Universidad Carlos III, Madrid-España. (Dynamic Factorial Models)

Roger Nelsen – Lewis & Clark College, Portland-USA. (Cópula)

Francisco Louzada: Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brasil. (Machine Learning).

Richard Davies: Columbia University, New York – USA. (Time Series).

Victor Leiva: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Vaparaiso, Chile. (Data Science).

Information on the Symposium can be obtained from the website: or by sending e-mail to or


The 4th Biennial Jamaica Statistics Symposium and Pre-Conference Workshop Series (JASSYM 2019) will be held in Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies, October 29 to November 1, 2019.  The workshops and scientific sessions will showcase the use of statistics and and statistical methodology in providng suolutions to real world problems

Information on JASSYM 2019 can be obtained from the website or Facebook page  or by sending e-mail to

Novie Younger-Coleman PhD

Eastern North American Region (ENAR)

ENAR Officers

ENAR congratulates and welcomes the incoming President-Elect Michael Daniels, Secretary Brisa Sanchez, Regional Committee Members Lynn Eberly, Peter Song, and Alisa Stephens-Shields, and newly appointed Regional Advisory Board Members Ashley Buchanan, Emily Butler, Ani Eloyan, Tanya Garcia, Joseph Kan, Sung Duk Kim, Benjamin Risk, Ana-Maria Staicu, Sameera Wijayawardana, and Yize Zhao. We are excited for your contribution to the organization. Scarlet Bellamy (Drexel University), 2018 Past-President, chaired the Nominations Committee. We’re also grateful for the service of our continuing officers President Sarah Ratcliffe, Past-President Jeffrey Morris, Treasurer Renee Moore, and RECOM and RAB members.

2019 ENAR Spring Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, USA

The 2019 Spring Meeting of the IBS Eastern North American Region, in conjunction with the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) and sections of the American Statistical Association (ASA), was held 24-27 March at the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown. Special thanks to the 2019 Program Committee Chair Pamela Shaw (University of Pennsylvania) and Associate Chair Michael Fay (NIAID),  IMS Program Chair Vladimir Minin (UC Irvine), Local Arrangements Chair Nandita Mitra (University of Pennsylvania), Digital Program Coordinator Alessandra Valcarcel (University of Pennsylvania) and all of the committee members.

The scientific program was once again outstanding with a wide variety of topics, including wearable technology, microbiome analysis, data integration, causal inference with interference, variable selection, joint modeling and risk prediction, functional data analysis, and precision medicine.   The program also featured a memorial session in honor of Doug Altman. The Presidential Invited Speaker was Francesca Dominici, Clarence James Gamble Professor of Biostatistics, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her talk was entitled “A Particulate Solution: Data Science in the Fight to Stop Air Pollution and Climate Change.”

Several full day and half-day short courses were offered and were a resounding success!  Shorter tutorials were also presented, as well as roundtable luncheons, offering participants a chance to interact with peers in a smaller venue.   ENAR 2019 also featured two pre-conference workshops, the Junior Researchers Workshop, organized by Howard Cheung, Betsy Ogburn (Johns Hopkins University), Jessica Franklin (Harvard University), David Vock (University of Minnesota), and Chris Slaughter and Fostering Diversity in Biostatistics, organizing committee chaired by Co-Chairs Portia Exum (SAS) and Felicia Simpson (Winston-Salem University). Workshop attendees greatly enjoyed these unique opportunities for networking and professional development.

2019 JSM 27 July – 1 August, Denver, Colorado, USA

The 2019 Joint Statistical Meetings will be held in Denver, Colorado from 2019, and ENAR is fortunate to have Michael Rosenblum be our representative to the Program Committee. If you are interested in getting involved at the meeting please contact Michael at

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

Stay tuned for information about the 2020 ENAR Spring Meeting in Nashville, TN! If you are interested in getting involved or have ideas for invited sessions, please contact Program Chair Juned Siddique (Northwestern University, or Program Co-Chair Chenguang Wang, (Johns Hopkins University,

ENAR Webinar Series

Details about upcoming ENAR webinars can be found at: Please contact Michael Hudgens ( if you have suggestions for webinar topics.

Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR)

10th EMR-Italian Region Conference, Jerusalem 17-20 December 2018

The 10th Eastern Mediterranean – International Biometrics Society Conference took place in Jerusalem, 17-20 December 2018.  Jerusalem is a holy city, crossroads of different civilizations and religions, and a city that embodies the nature of EMR. This was the regular biannual meeting of EMR. The conference was started with a one-day Symposium to honor the 70th birthday of Prof. Yoav Benjamini, a prominent member of our EMR. Among his many contributions, Yoav Benjamini is one of the founding fathers of the false discovery rate (FDR) approach to multiple comparisons, which has emerged as a key tool in modern science. The symposium in his honor included a strong lineup of invited speakers.

As always, the conference brought together researchers from around the world in this beautiful place. There were around 180 participants from 27 countries from all parts of the world including the USA, Europe, Australia and Asia. During the 4 days of the scientific program there were 8 talks on the Symposium Day and 105 talks during the conference. On top of the talks, we had 24 posters. The 10th Conference, like the previous EMR conferences, included a broad variety of topics in statistics and biostatistics.  As it is now custom in EMR meeting, there was an Italian-Spanish session to support the network activities between EMR, Italian and Spanish regions.  Remarkable talks were given, and new developments were presented by the invited speakers in numerous sessions.

The social events started with a welcome party at the day of the Symposium with a very emotional speech of Prof Benjamini and his son, Dr. Yuval Benjamini of Hebrew University.  A small walking tour in the city of Jerusalem preceded the conference dinner with magnificent view of the old city.  All participants enjoyed the luxurious coffee breaks, traditional food during the lunches and a series of interesting excursions.

As far as the scientific part of the meeting, Louise Ryan (University of Technology Sydney) gave the Marvin Zelen Memorial Lecture. A keynote address was given by Jack Kalbfleish (University of Michigan) while plenary lectures were given by Scott Zeger (Johns Hopkins University) and Chiara Sabatti (Stanford University).

As in the last EMR conferences since 2011, there were 3 student awards supported by Frontier Science Foundation Hellas, to honor the memory of Prof Steve Lagakos, a keen supporter of EMR. The winners for this year were

Robin Geneviève, from CMAP, École Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France

Xu Ningning, from Biomedical Data Science, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands

Anirudh Tomer, from Erasmus University Medical Center, The Netherlands

We kindly acknowledge the support of IBS that funded students from Italy and Spain to participate in the conference and present their work in the relevant session.

Thanks are due for the great job done to the local organizing committee especially to Malka Gorfine and David Zucker.  Photos from the conference as well as videos from the Symposium can be found in the web page of the conference:

Conferences of the EMR are held bi-annually, with the next one scheduled for 2021; more details will be posted soon.

Louise Ryan and Geert Molenberghs at the opening session

Photo from the dinner.

Ecuadorian Region (ECU)

IBS-Ecuador as a sponsor of multiple statistics conferences

The IBS-Ecuador is proud to be a sponsor of the International Conference on Robust Statistics and the Latin American Conference on Statistical Computing 2019 (ICORS-LACSC 2019). The meeting will take place in the public university of ESPOL, located in Guayaquil and will be an opportunity to create a forum to discuss recent progress and emerging ideas in statistics. The conference program will be carried out on May 28-31. For more information, visit the conference website at

At the same time, Omar Ruiz the president of the Region will impart a course on methodologies for experimental data capture with applications in R, this course is aimed on supporting the decision making process using mathematical models to represent experimental design, providing the participants with basic training on how to delineate it. This course starts on February 25, will count with 30 hours (including face-to-face classes and autonomous activities) and it will finish on March 1.

Finally, with the purpose of spreading knowledge among the members we have created an alliance with the CIEE -ESPOL, which is in charge of directing multiple conferences. It is planned to make a live broadcast through a channel of IBS Ecuador.

Gema Alexandra Zambrano


German Region (DR)


Pharmaceutical Research

Working group Pharmaceutical Research had its fall meeting on “Visualization” November 23rd, 2018 in Berlin at Parexel. The agenda was: M. Vandemeulebroecke (Novartis): Advanced visual analytics – an initiative to improve visual communication and analysis at Novartis; D. Saure (Lilly): Options of visualization in external communication; A. Waddell (Roche): Interactive visual exploration of high-dimensional data points – Estimands and beyond; B. Kirsch (Bayer): Introducing the Subgroup Explorer, an interactive visualization for systematic analysis of sub-groups; N. Mentenich & B. Becker (Bayer): AdEPro – Adverse reactions interactive in sound and vision; O. Sailer (Boehringer Ingelheim): Supporting statistical Go/NoGo decision making using R-Shiny. There were 86 participants.


Frank Langer

Bayes Methods

The Working Group “Bayes Methods” held a 2-day workshop in Göttingen on 06-07 December 2018, kindly hosted by the Department of Medical Statistics, University Medicine Göttingen (Prof. T.Friede). More than 40 participants could be welcomed.

The workshop started with a tutorial held by S.Weber/H.Schmidli (Novartis Pharma AG, Basel/Switzerland), “Use of historical data: Methods, applications and implementation with the R package RBesT”

The further presentations were: H. Schmidli: “Bayesian applications in drug development”. R. Bender (IQWiG, Cologne): “Applications of Bayesian methods in health technology assessment”. S. Sturtz (IQWiG, Cologne): Meta-analysis using Bayesian methods: Applications in systematic reviews”. A panel discussion was moderated by N. Benda (BfARM, Bonn). C. Röver (University Medicine, Göttingen): Model averaging for robust extrapolation in evidence synthesis”. M. Wiesenfarth (German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg): “Quantification of prior impact in terms of prior effective historical and current sample size”. T. Jaki (Lancaster University): “Multi-objective dose-finding”. B. K. Günhan (University Medicine, Göttingen): “Phase I dose-escalation trials with more than one dosing regimen”. S. Klein (Bayer AG, Berlin): “Bayesian concept for combined phase 2a/b trials”. F. Fleischer (Boehringer Ingelheim, Biberach): “Bayesian MCPMod”. E. Vradi (Bayer AG, Berlin): “Bayesian variable selection and classification with control of predictive values” (held by T. Jaki). A. Ring (Medac, Wedel): “Planning crossover bioequivalence trials: Systematic review and application of assurance”. A. Kopp-Schneider (German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg): “Bayesian borrowing of external information: What can be gained in terms of frequentist power?”. A. Ring (Medac, Wedel): “Scientific cooperation with African students in mathematics, exemplified for a project to determine the assurance during project planning of clinical development programs”.

For abstracts and (partly) slides please see

The workshop proceeded in a friendly atmosphere. The Working Group again says “Thank you” to the local organizers in Göttingen.

For the Working Group:  Reinhard Vonthein, Christian Röver, Gerhard Nehmiz

Continuing education

The working group on continuing education (AG Weiterbildung) held a seminar on ‘Predictive Modelling and Supervised Learning’ on January 24-25, 2019 in Berlin.

Lecturers were Prof. Dr. Matthias Schmid and Thomas Welchowski, M.Sc; both from the Institute for Medical Biometry, Informatics and Epidemiology (IMBIE), University Hospital Bonn, Germany.

The two-day course focused on:

  • Aspects and Methods of Variable Selection in Statistical Regression Models;
  • Components of the forecasting error and strategies for data-driven model development;
  • Nonparametric Monitored Learning Using Recursive Partitioning and Random Forests as Examples;
  • Model-based statistical learning using the example of boosting methods;
  • Statistical learning with limited and censored targets.

With 25 participants the course was soon fully booked (with a long waiting list). Participants’ feedback was excellent, and a further course will be considered.

Stephanie Roll

Japanese Region (JR)

The 2018 Biometric Seminar

The Biometric Seminar entitled “Construction and performance evaluation of prediction models for survival-time outcomes” was held on December 7th and 8th, 2018 at the Campus Plaza Kyoto. This seminar was jointly organized with the support program for Biostatisticians by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (Kyoto University School of Public Health and School of Public Health, the University of Tokyo). Construction of prediction models for survival-time outcomes, dynamic prediction based on longitudinal data, and measures to evaluate prediction performance were discussed. In total, 122 people attended the seminar.

The 2019 Annual Meeting of the Biometric Society of Japan

The 2019 Annual Meeting of the Biometric Society of Japan (BSJ) will be held on 16-17, May 2019 at Sysmex Hall in the Kobe University School of Medicine, Kobe, Japan. Two invited sessions on statistical analysis using the cancer registry and a winner of the BSJ Honorary Award will be organized. A tutorial seminar will be also organized jointly with Japanese Society of Applied Statistics on functional data analysis.

Ikuko Funatogawa


16-17 May 2019
The 2019 Annual Meeting of the Biometric Society of Japan
Sysmex Hall in the Kobe University School of Medicine, Kobe, Japan

Korean Region (RKo)

In 2018, the IBS Korean section hosted two local successful conferences at Seoul in May 10th and November 16th. In the May conference, there were special talks on artificial intelligences methods for medical data analysis, Bayesian sequential optimization and Imputation methods for outcome dependent sampling, along with a graduate student’s paper competition. There, 2020 IBC Seoul was also advertised. The November conference was held as a joint conference of academia, industry, government focusing on clinical trials and related medical research. Dr. Chul Ahn from FDA (USA) and Dr. Leena Choi from Vanderbilt U gave special talks on recent issues on FDA regulation and epidemiologic research. Nearly 400 participants from university, pharmaceutical company and government attended the conference, making it a unique local conference for biometric research in South Korea.

Spring Conference at Seoul

IBS Spring Conference at Seoul. Dr. Taerim Lee describes current progress on 2020 IBC Seoul

IBS Fall Conference at Seoul

IBS Fall Conference at Seoul

The Netherlands Region (BMS-ANed)

On May 16 the Dutch Section for Biostatistics – BMS-ANed – and the Dutch Section for Data Science will host a shared meeting in Utrecht. The afternoon will be dedicated to statistics and machine learning, i.e. a topics that nowadays is interesting for all of us. We especially hope to have a lively discussion on similarities and differences between both disciplines.

We expect the following presenters:

  • Katrijn van Deun (Tilburg; Machine Learning)
  • Sach Mukherjee (Bonn; Biostatistics, but also ML and imaging & omics)
  • Jeroen de Ridder (Utrecht; Machine Learning/Computational Biology)
  • Ernst Wit (Lugano; Biostatistics)

On behalf of the Dutch Region,
Joanna IntHout

Spanish Region (REsp)

The young statisticians of the Spanish region of the IBS are organizing the “IV Jornadas de Estudiantes de la SEB”. This national meeting is addressed to young students related to the Biometry research area.

The meeting will be held in the Escuela Politécnica Superior in Albacete, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha in 5 -6 September 2019.  Virgilio Gomez Rubio will teach a course related to spatial statistics using R.

We invite to all young statisticians to share their work in a friendly environment made up of students where there is no place for shame or panics to questions that are complicated to answer. Also, keep in mind that beyond the days there will be time to dine together, chat in a more relaxed environment and meet Albacete in its greatest splendor.

More information is available on our web page: and at our e-mail:

Western North American Region (WNAR)

2019 WNAR Election Results

Congratulations to WNAR President-Elect Ying Lu from Stanford University, Treasurer-Elect Brandie Wagner from University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Treasurer Mary Redman from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Program Coordinator Dongseok Choi from Oregon Health Sciences University, and Regional Committee Representative Katie Kerr from University of Washington.

Special thanks go out to outgoing WNAR Past-President Sarah Emerson and outgoing Regional Committee Representative Xioaming Sheng for their efforts and dedication to WNAR.

We would like to thank all the WNAR members who volunteered to be candidates for these offices. WNAR is fortunate to have so many talented members willing to dedicate their time and energy to WNAR, which makes each election a choice among outstanding individuals.

2019 WNAR/IMS meeting

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

2019 WNAR Student Paper Competition

WNAR sponsors students who enter the student paper competition. All WNAR-region entrants receive their registration fees and banquet dinner ticket for free. Monetary prizes will be awarded to the best papers in written and oral competitions. Information on the 2018 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.

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 – Click here to register
Title: Informative group testing for multiplex assays. (
Speaker: Christopher Bilder

15 August 2019 – Click here to register
Title: Bayesian Analysis of 210pb Dating.
Speaker: Marco Aquino López

10 October 2019 – TBD

12 December 2019 – TBD

To register contact

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