Friday, 2 December 2016

Good stuff around

Lately, I've been publicising quite heavily our Summer school and new MSc, but of course, we're not the only one to plan for interesting things worth mentioning $-$ well, of course this is highly subjective... But then again, this blog is (mainly) about Bayesian stuff, so what's the problem with that?...

Anyway, I know of at least a couple of very interesting events:

1) Petros' course on Decision modeling using R, in Toronto, in February 2017. Last year he kindly invited me and I gave some sort of BCEA tutorial, which I really enjoyed.

2) Emmanuel's summer school on advanced Bayesian methods, in Leuven, in September 2017 (I think their website is not live yet, but info will be available at the i-Biostat website). I think they'll do a three-day course on non-parametric Bayesian methods and then a two-day course on Bayesian clinical trials.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Come & play with us!

We're starting to build up the promotional material for our new MSc in Health Economics and Decision Science. Here's the first of a few videos we've filmed!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Summer School: Bayesian Methods in Health Economics

We're finally ready to advertise our new Summer School on Bayesian Methods in Health Economics, in Florence, 12-16 June 2017! This is basically combining the two short courses that we've run in the past few years $-$ the first one on Bayesian modelling for cost-effectiveness analysis using R, BUGS and BCEA, which I have done with Chris and Richard; the second one is the short course on Value of Information we did last summer with Mark, Nicky and Anna. 

The five of us have decided we should take these to the next level and so have arranged to merge the two programmes and enjoy a well in late Spring next year in Florence. Now, you may think I'm massively biased (because Florence is my home town) $-$ and partly I am $-$ but the place we chose and managed to book is really awesome.

The programme of the lectures in the summer school is the following:
  1. Introduction to health economic evaluations
  2. Introduction to Bayesian inference
  3. Introduction to Markov Chain Monte Carlo in BUGS
  4. Cost and cost-utility data
  5. Statistical cost-effectiveness analysis
  6. Probabilistic sensitivity analysis (PSA)
  7. Advanced topics in PSA
  8. Model error and structural uncertainty
  9. Evidence synthesis (1) - hierarchical models
  10. Evidence synthesis (2) - network meta-analysis
  11. Markov models
  12. Introduction to the theory of the value of information
  13. Expected value of partial information (1) - theory & algebraic tricks
  14. Expected value of partial information (2) - nested Monte Carlo
  15. Expected value of partial information (3) - generalised additive models & GP regression
  16. Expected value of partial information (4) - GP regression via integrated nested Laplace approximation
  17. Expected value of sample information (1) - conjugated analysis
  18. Expected value of sample information (2) - regression-based methods
All the lectures will be followed by computer practicals in which we'll show how use R and BUGS to perform cost-effectiveness analyses and post-process the model outcomes, mainly using BCEA.

We have planned for a maximum of 30 participants $-$ in previous editions, we've had most people coming from the UK. This time we're hoping for an "inverse-Brexit" to branch out more widely to other European countries. Participants will all be able to stay at the Centro Study (there are 10 single and 10 double rooms available, so book quickly if you definitely want a single!).

The registration fee also includes a copy of the three main books used as reference in the course: BMHEThe BUGS Book and Evidence Synthesis for Decision Making in Healthcare. We'll also prepare a full set of handouts and computer code (R and BUGS) that we use in the practicals. 

Registration is already available (from now to the end of April) on the UCL Store. We offer a lower rate for students!

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Elections and the law of large numbers

I know most people have been caught up in the minor and irrelevant issue of the US presidential election $-$ what really mattered in the past couple of weeks was another, much more important election: the ISBA Section on Biostatistics and Pharmaceutical Statistics was renewing many of its officers!

In recent times, I have always been on the losing side of an election (both in Italy and in the UK $-$ although, despite paying my taxes here, I am not allowed to vote in the general elections $-$ and it seemed anywhere there was an election, really...). 

Finally, this time around, the spell was broken and I was elected Programme Chair of the section. I have been working in the section for the past two years as secretary, so it'll be nice to continue this process and link even more all the Bayesian activities I'm involved in!

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Lectureship @ UCL

As part of our new MSc in Health Economics and Decision Science, we're recruiting a lecturer $-$ the job advert with all the relevant details are here. The post will be based at the UCL Institute of Global Health, but much as the MSc, the job-holder will work across the three areas of this entire project (IGH, Statistical Science and Economics).

The deadline for application is December 4th and we aim to interview shortly after! Incidentally, working from home should be acceptable...

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Always take the weather with you...

Last week, we were in lovely Andalusia $-$ it was Kobi's first half term holiday at school and so we decided to make the most of it. It was actually an awesome week $-$ wonderful weather, nice places and now it's really hard to go back to focus to work... 

Anyway, as part of the trip, we went to visit Gibraltar, which is technically a bit of Britain enclosed within Spanish territory. Guess which bit is which...

Monday, 10 October 2016

Masters of some

This is really exciting $-$ well, at least for us... Our new Masters in Health Economics and Decision Sciences is up and running and applications are now open for the next academic year!

We're updating the promotional material (which will also feature a rather embarrassing interview that I and others have filmed to describe the life-changing advantages people will experience if they come and study with us), so I'll point to more (hilarious, but hopefully also helpful) bits as they become available.

In the meantime, we thought we'd include some ideas of what the syllabus might look like, for different students' backgrounds (in brackets the departments/institutes within UCL already providing the module).

Sample module selection for a student with a first degree in Epidemiology or Statistics (or any other quantitative discipline aside from Economics), wishing to take the Decision Science Stream within the degree
1. Health Systems in a Global Context (Institute of Global Health, IGH)
2. Economic Evaluation (IGH) 
3. Medical Statistics I (Statistical Science, Stats)
4. Key Principles of Health Economics
5. Introductory Microeconomics  
6. Modelling for Decision Science
7. Bayesian Methods in Economic Evaluation
8. Medical Statistics II (Stats)

Sample module selection for a student with a first degree in Economics, wishing to take the Decision Science Stream within the degree
1. Health Policy and Reform  (Centre for Philosophy Justice and Health, CPJH)
2. Economic Evaluation (IGH) 
3. Medical Statistics I (Stats)
4. Microeconomics for Health
5. Modelling for Decision Science
6. Bayesian Methods in Economic Evaluation
7. Health Economics (Economics, Econ)
8. Urban Health (IGH)

Sample module selection for a student with a first degree in Epidemiology or Statistics (or any other quantitative discipline aside from Economics), wishing to take the Economic Stream within the degree
1. Health Systems in a Global Context (IGH)
2. Introductory Microeconomics  
3. Econometrics (NEW)
4. Economic Evaluation (IGH) 
5. Microeconomics for Health
6. Health Economics (Econ)
7. Medical Statistics I (Stats)
8. Bayesian Methods in Economic Evaluation

Sample module selection for a student with a first degree in Economics, wishing to take the Economics Stream within the degree
1. Health Policy and Reform  (CPJH)
2. Econometrics (NEW)
3. Economic Evaluation (IGH) 
4. Microeconomics for Health
5. Health Economics (Econ)
6. Modelling for Decision Science (NEW)
7. Bayesian Methods in Economic Evaluation

8. Social Determinants of Health

We've already received some applications, which is super good news $-$ but there's still plenty of room!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Shiny happy people in the land of the Czar

During the summer, we've worked silently but relentlessly to set up a departmental server that could run R-Shiny applications. 

There's a bunch of us in the department doing work on R and producing packages and so we thought it'd be a good idea to disseminate our research. Which is just as well, as I've been nominated "2020 REF Impact Czar", meaning I'll have to help collate all the evidence that our work does have an impact on the "real world"...

Anyway, after some teething problems (mainly due to my getting familiar with the system and the remote installation of R and Shiny), I think we've now managed to successfully "deploy" (I think that's the correct technical term) two webapps. 

These are bmetaweb and BCEAweb. The first one is the web-interface to our bmeta package for Bayesian meta-analysis (which I developed with my PhD student Christina). The main point of bmeta is to allow some sort of standardised framework for a set of models for meta-analysis, depending on the nature of the outcome and some modelling assumption (eg fixed vs random effects). In addition to running the default models (which are based on rather vague priors and pre-defined model structures), bmeta saves data and model code (in JAGS), so that people can actually use these templates and actually modify them to their specific needs.

BCEAweb is the actual mother of the whole project (much as SAVI is then the actual grandmother, as it inspired our work on developing web-interfaces to R packages) and the idea is to use remotely BCEA to post-process the outcome of a (Bayesian) health economic model. BCEAweb works by uploading the simulations from a model and then using remotely R to produce all the relevant output for the reporting of the results in terms of cost-effectiveness analysis.

One thing we've tried very hard to include in both the webapps is the possibility of downloading a full report (in .pdf or .docx format) with a summary of the analyses. I think this is really cool and we'll probably develop more of these $-$ particularly for our work related to statistical methods for health economic evaluations.

Comments welcome, of course!