Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Relocation, relocation, relocation

Earlier today, I was contacted by Politico $-$ they are covering the story about the European Union's process to reassign the two EU agencies currently located in London, the European Medicines Agency, (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA) post-Brexit.

I know of this, but wasn't aware of the actual process, which is kind of complex: 
"The vote for each agency will consist of successive voting rounds, with the votes cast by secret ballot. In the first round, each member state will have one vote consisting of six voting points, which should be allocated in order of preference to three offers: three points to the first preference, two to the second and one to the third. If one offer receives three voting points from at least 14 member states, this will be considered the selected offer. Otherwise, the three offers (or more in case of a tie) with the highest number of points will go to a second round of voting. In the second round, each member state will have one voting point, which should be allocated to its preferred option in that round. If one offer receives 14 or more votes, it will be considered the selected offer. Otherwise, a third round will follow among the two offers (or more in case of a tie) with the highest number of votes, again with one voting point per member state. In the event of a tie, the presidency will draw lots between the tied offers."
Cat Contiguglia has contacted me to have a chat about this $-$ they had done a couple of pieces likening the resemblance with the Eurovision contest. As I told Cat, however, I think this is more like the way cities get assigned the right to host the Olympic Games, or even how the Palio di Siena works... I guess lots of discussion is already going on among the member states. 

Apparently, Milan and Frankfurt are the favourites to host EMA and EBA, respectively. I think I once heard a story that, originally, EMA was supposed to be located in Rome. Unfortunately, the decision was to be made just as one of the many Italian political scandal was about to uncover, pointing to massive corruption in the Italian healthcare system and so Rome was stripped of the title. Perhaps a win for Milan will help Italy get over the World Cup...

Friday, 10 November 2017

At the Oscars!

Well, these days being part of the glittering world of show-biz is not necessarily a good thing, but when your life is soooo glamorous that someone feels the unstoppable need to make a biopic of it... well, you really need to embrace your new status as a movie star and enjoy all the perks that life will now throw at you...



I know, I know... This is still about the Eurovision. But, this time they made a short video to tell the story $-$ you may think the still above hows Marta and me, but these are actually two actors, playing us! 

I think they've made a very good job at rendering us $-$ particularly me, I think. If you believe the movies: 
  • We (particularly I) are younger than we really are;
  • We drink a lot (although "Marta"'s drink 25 seconds in looks like a cross between Cranberry juice and the stuff they use to show vampires drinking human blood from hospital blood bags)...
  • We laugh a lot $-$ I think this is kind of true, though...
  • I like how 1 min 24 seconds in, "Marta" authoritatively demands a kiss on the cheek and "my" response to that is covered by floating webpages $-$ kind of rated R...
  • The storyline seems to suggest that we thought about doing this as wondered whether we should do a Bayesian model $-$ of course that was never in question!...
Anyway, I think I need to thank the guys at Taylor & Francis (Clare Dodd, in particular), who've done an amazing job! 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Alan Turing's project

The Alan Turing Institute (ATI) has just announced the next round of Doctoral Studentships.

Here's the original blurb with all the relevant information. The guys in the picture are not part of the supervisory teams (but I think I will be...).








We are seeking highly talented and motivated graduates to apply for our fully funded doctoral studentship scheme commencing October 2018 and welcome applications from home/EU and international students.

We are the national institute for data science, created in 2015 in response to a need for greater investment in data science research. Headquartered at the British Library in the heart of London’s vibrant Knowledge Quarter, the Institute was founded by the universities of CambridgeEdinburgh, OxfordUniversity College London and Warwick – and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The Turing 2018 Doctoral Studentships are an exceptional opportunity for talented individuals looking to embark on a career in the rapidly emerging field of data science.


Turing students will have access to a wide range of benefits unique to the Institute:

  • Access to a range of events, seminars, reading groups and workshops delivered by leaders in research, government and industry
  • Opportunities to collaborate on real world projects for societal impact with our current and emerging industry partners
  • Expert support and guidance through all stages of the studentship delivered by supervisors who are Fellows of the Turing or substantively engaged with us
  • Access to brilliant minds researching a range of subjects with opportunities to collaborate and join or start interest groups
  • Networking opportunities through the Institute, university and strategic partners
  • Bespoke HQ designed for optimal study and inter disciplinary collaborations

Studentships include a tax-free stipend of £20,500 per annum (up to 3.5-years), plus home/EU tuition fees and a travel allowance. A limited number of fully-funded overseas studentships are also available.

Additional studentships may be available through our Strategic Partners – HSBC, Intel, Lloyds’ Register Foundation and UK Government – Defence & Security with projects aligned to our strategic priorities.

In line with the Institute’s cross-disciplinary research community, we particularly welcome applications from graduates whose research spans multiple disciplines and applications.




Application deadline: 12:00 GMT Thursday 30 November 2017

Monday, 9 October 2017

Summer school in Leuven

Emmanuel has organised earlier this year the first edition of the Summer School on Advanced Bayesian Methods, in the beautiful Belgian town of Leuven (which is also where we had our Bayes conference a couple of years ago).

For next year, they have planned the second edition, which will run from 24th to 28th September and I'm thrilled that they have invited me to do the second part on... you guessed it: Bayesian Methods in Health Economic Evaluation.

The programme is really interesting and Mike Daniels will do the first three days on Bayesian Parametric and Nonparametric Methods for Missing Data and Causal Inference. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

24. Nearly.

As the academic year is beginning (our courses will officially start next week), this week has seen the arrival of our new students, including those in our MSc Health Economics & Decision Science (I've talked about this here and here).

When we set out the planning, we were a bit nervous because, while everybody at UCL has been very encouraging and supportive, we were also given a rather hard target $-$ get at least 12 students, or else this is not viable. (I don't think we were actually told what would have happened if we had recruited fewer students. But I don't think we cared to ask $-$ the tone seemed scary enough)...

Well, as it happens, we've effectively doubled the target and we now have 22 students starting on the programme $-$ there may be a couple more additions, but even if they fail to turn up, I think Jolene, Marcos and I will count ourselves very happy! I've spoken to some of the students yesterday and earlier today and they all seem very enthusiastic, which is obviously very good!

Related to this, we'll soon start our new seminar series, to which all the MSc students are "strongly encouraged" to participate. But I'll post more generally in case they may be of interest to a wider audience...

Friday, 8 September 2017

Building the EVSI

Anna and I have just arxived a paper (that we've also submitted to Value in Health), in which we're trying to publicise more widely and in a less technical way the "Moment Matching" method (which we sent to MDM and should be on track and possibly out soon...) to estimate the Expected Value of Sample Information.

The main point of this paper is to showcase the method and highlight its usability $-$ we are also working on computational tools that we'll use to simplify and generalise the analysis. It's an exciting project, I think and luckily we've got our hands on data and designs for some real studies, so we can play around them, which is also nice. I'll post more soon.

Anna has suggested the title of the paper with Bob the builder in mind (so "Can we do it? Yes we can"), although perhaps President Obama (simply "Yes we can") may have worked better. Either way, the picture to the left is just perfect for when we turn this into a presentation...

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Planes, trains and automobiles

For some reason, Kobi's favourite thing in the world is flying on an airplane, with making paper airplanes a very closed second and playing airport pretending to check (real) suitcases in and setting off through security as a rather close third.

So it's not surprising that he was quite upset when I told him I would go on an airplane not once, not twice, but three times in the space of just a couple of weeks (in fact, I'll fly to Pisa, then Paris, come back on a train, ride a train again to Brussels and back and finally fly to Bologna and back, all to give talks at several places. From Bologna, I'll actually need to hire a car, because my talk is in nearby Parma). 

I think for a moment Kobi did consider stop loving me. But luckily, I think the crisis has been averted and I got him back on good terms when I told him it's not too long until he can fly again...

Yesterday I was Glasgow to give a talk at the Conference of the Royal Statistical Society in the first leg of my September travels-for-talks. My talk was in a session on missing data in health economic evaluation, with Andrew Briggs and James Carpenter also speaking. I think the session was really interesting and we had a rather good audience, so I was pleased with that.

My talk was basically stealing from Andrea's PhD work $-$ we (this includes also Alexina and Rachael who are co-supervising the project) have been doing some interesting stuff on modelling costs and benefit individual level data accounting for correlation between the outcomes; skeweness in the distributions; and "structural" values (eg spikes at QALY values of 1, which cannot be modelled directly using a Beta distribution).

Andrea has done some very good work also in programming the relevant functions in BUGS/JAGS (and he's having a stub at Stan too) into a beta-version of what we'll be our next package (we have called it missingHE) $-$ I'll say more on this when we have a little more established material ready.

The next trip is to Paris on Monday to give a talk at the Department of Biostatistics, in the Institut Gustav Roussy, where I'll speak about (you guessed it...)  Bayesian methods in health economics. I'll link to my presentation (that is when I'm finished tweaking it...).

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A couple of things...

Just a couple of interesting things...


1. Petros sends me this advert for a post as Biostatistician at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto
The Child Health Evaluative Sciences Program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is recruiting a PhD Biostatistician to lead the execution of a CIHR funded clinical trial methodology project, and the planning of upcoming trials with a focus on:
  • improving and using methods of Bayesian Decision analysis and Value of Information in pediatric trial design and analysis;
  • using patient and caregiver preference elicitation methods (e.g. discrete choice experiments) in pediatrics;
  • developing of statistical plan and conducting the statistical analysis for pediatric clinical trials.
The Biostatistician will collaborate with the Principal Investigators (PIs) of four trials that are in the design stage, and with two senior biostatisticians and methodologists within the CHES program. The successful candidate will have protected time for independent methods development. A cross appointment with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto will be sought.

Here’s What You’ll Get To Do:
In collaboration with the trials’ Principal Investigators (PIs), develop the study protocols;
Contribute in the conceptualization and development of decision analytic models;
Contribute in conducting literature reviews and keep current with study literature;
Assist with design/development and implementation of value of information methods;
Contribute to preparation of reports, presentations, and manuscripts.

Here’s What You’ll Need:
Graduate degree in Statistics, Biostatistics, Health Economics or a related discipline;
Ability to function independently yet collaboratively within a team;
Excellent statistical programming skills predominantly using R software; 
Experience with report and manuscript writing;
Effective communication, interpersonal, facilitation and organizational skills;
Meticulous attention to detail.
Employment Type: 

Temporary, Full-Time (3 year contract with possibilities for renewal)

Contacts: Dr. Petros Pechlivanoglou and Dr. Martin Offringa 


2. And Manuel has an advert for a very interesting short course on Missing Data in health economic evaluations (I will do my bit on Bayesian methods to do this, which is also very much related to the talk I'll give at the RSS conference in Glasgow, later in September $-$ this is part of Andrea's PhD work). I'll post more on this later.
Two-day short course: Methods for addressing missing data in health economic evaluation

Dates: 21-22 September, 2017

Venue: University College London

Overview
Missing data are ubiquitous in health economic evaluation. The major concern that arises with missing data is that individuals with missing information tend to be systematically different from those with complete data. As a result, cost-effectiveness inferences based on complete cases are often misleading. These concerns face health economic evaluation based on a single study, and studies that synthesise data from several sources in decision models. While accessible, appropriate methods for addressing the missing data are available in most software packages, their uptake in health economic evaluation has been limited.

Taught by leading experts in missing data methodology, this course offers an in-depth description of both introductory and advanced methods for addressing missing data in economic evaluation. These will include multiple imputation, hierarchical approaches, sensitivity analysis using pattern mixture models and Bayesian methods. The course will introduce the statistical concepts and underlying assumptions of each method, and provide extensive guidance on the application of the methods in practice. Participants will engage in practical sessions illustrating how to implement each technique with user-friendly software (Stata).

At the end of the course, the participants should be able to develop an entire strategy to address missing data in health economic studies, from describing the problem, to choosing an appropriate statistical approach, to conducting sensitivity analysis to standard missing data assumptions, to interpreting the cost-effectiveness results in light of those assumptions.

Who should apply?
The course is aimed at health economists, statisticians, policy advisors or other analysts with an interest in health economic evaluation, who would like to expand their toolbox. It is anticipated that participants will be interested in undertaking or interpreting cost-effectiveness analyses that use patient-level data, either from clinical trials or observational data.

Course fees: £600 (Commercial/Industry); £450 (Public sector); £200 (Students); payable by the 8th September 2017.

To register for the course or for further information, please see here