Friday, 28 November 2014

Good intention/bad practice?

As part of the newly established Statistics/Health Economics seminars that our group is now organising at UCL, we are preparing a very exciting event for December 15th (so basically just a couple of weeks away).

A few of us got to talk about several general issues and we came up with the idea of a one-day workshop exploring issues around the setting of cost-effectiveness thresholds in economic evaluations. One thing led to another and we decided to try and ambush Mike Paulden (who's done quite a bit of work on this) on his way back to England for the Christmas holiday (I would like to take full credit for this, but I think it was James to suggest it) $-$ thus the probably unusual timing for this!

As if this wasn't enough, we'd also taken advantage of Chris McCabe's ability for finding catchy titles and sort-of asked him to suggest one $-$ I think the end result was brilliant, so we named the workshop NICE and the cost-effectiveness thresholds: Can good intentions compensate for bad practice?

The semi-final programme is available on the website $-$ but the plan is to keep it as informal as possible, with lots of time for discussion during and after the talks. In addition, I will also talk about how including risk-aversion in utility functions may be linked to issues around the choice of cost-effectiveness threshold (if at all!). My talk will probably be (much) less "mature" than everybody else's $-$ I have been thinking about this for some time, but never had the time to fully clarify my thoughts... Hopefully I'll be forced to produce something vaguely reasonable in the next few days...

I should say that participation is free, but the space is limited, so if you are reading this and think you may be interested, please drop me an email, so we know what to expect! 

Bayes Pharma 2015 - call for abstracts

The organisation of the next Bayes Pharma conference is in full swing. We've confirmed the invited speakers and finalised quite a few of the details too. We've now opened the call for abstracts.

A flyer with some extra info is available from here. Finally, registration is open from here.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Second time lucky, I've just been elected Secretary of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA) Section on Biostatistics and Pharmaceutical Statistics

The aim of this specialised section of ISBA is to help network and federate under a common well-known "brand" all the initiatives to spread Bayesian methods and ideas, to solve problems in Biostatistics and its applications to the pharmaceutical industry.

I'm actually excited at the opportunity, not least because of the incredible group of officers. I think one of the tasks will be to make the Bayesian Biostatistics conference (which is usually held at MD Anderson in Houston) occasionally travel to other venues and increase the visibility and membership of the section. Hopefully, we'll be able to throw Bayes Pharma in the mix as well!

Another job

We have another job available in the Department of Statistical Science at UCL. This will be a joint post between the department and University College Hospital (we have strong links with the Joint Research Office and do collaborate with many clinicians on their applied work).

The job will be a mixture of various health research studies and clinical trials conducted at UCL and the associated NHS Trusts. I think it is interesting that the successful candidate will be able to work on applied projects as well as on some more methodological ones.

Lots of information (including links to apply) on the UCL website. Deadline for the applications is January 4th $-$ we expect to interview shortly after.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Best job ever

The job advert for the postdoc position in our MRC-funded project on the Regression Discontinuity Design is finally out.

Aidan has done a fantastic job in his little over a year in the position, but he's now moved to a lectureship in our department and so we need to find a suitable replacement. In fact, the new post has been extended and will be jointly funded by the project and the UCL department of Primary Care and Population Health $-$ who are collaborators on the RDD anyway.

The project is doing well and we do have a couple of interesting papers out $-$ here and here, for example. We're also currently working on some more extensions of the method, as well as the actual applications to the THIN dataset.

As they formally say, "Informal enquiries regarding the vacancy may be addressed to Dr Gianluca Baio, email:"...

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

How do you spell your name?

I've just got back from ISPOR, at which I managed to chat with several people $-$ I guess that's one of those conferences where the amount of people in the sessions is basically the same as those outside, talking (more or less quietly). 

In fact, we'll try to arrange a few workshops/meetings $-$ the first one is this coming Monday at UCL, when James O'Mahony will talk about his work on the choice of comparator strategies in cost-effectiveness analyses of Human Papillomavirus testing in cervical screening. We'll try and have seminars/events monthly.

Among the highlights of my three days in Amsterdam: 
  • after a while, I noticed that every time I was walking through the exhibitors' booths, said exhibitors would intently check my name-tag out until they actually saw my affiliation and suddenly decided they weren't really interested and move their glance away (which I thought was quite funny); 
  • the first night, as I got to my hotel room, I tried to connect to the wireless using the instructions I'd been given (which was: use your room number and surname). Because it wasn't working, I phoned the reception to ask for assistance. The lady asked me: "What name are you using", to which I replied: "mine". To which she replied: "but how do you spell it?" To which I replied: "the way it is spelled: B-A-I-O". To which she replied: "Oh, but to us it is spelt B-A-L-O. That's what you should use". It worked;
  • the nice dinner at this Italian restaurant (I didn't choose it, but it was quite good).