Impression of the Adaptive Designs and Multiple Testing Procedures Workshop (La Dolce Vita of a statistician)
Ok let’s face it. Maybe the most fun part of the PhD life is going to any place that involves travelling and free food (aka conferences, workshops). But be warned, it is not all about the math in talks. You also need those skills that will lead you to walk successfully through networking during the coffee break. In this post, we will tell you about our first experience in a conference as IDEAS researchers.
Last week, some of us had the chance to attend the Adaptive Designs and Multiple Testing Procedures Workshop 2016 that took place in the beautiful Padova (read it with an Italian accent to sound more authentic). Just half an hour away from the more well-known tourist-packed Venezia (don’t forget the Italian accent while reading), Padova is host of the university that carries the name of the city and you can see there many students riding their bikes which will give anybody that goes there a young and sporty feeling.
il caffè è un’arte (coffee is art), the first thing you do when arriving in Italy is get one of those hearty and tiny espressos
The workshop was the annual meeting for the Adaptive Designs and Multiple Testing Procedures Joint Working Group (Section) of the Austro-Swiss region (ROeS) and the German Region of the International Biometric Society. Its main purpose was to gather researchers from both industry and academia to showcase their work and create synergies between them in a 2-day workshop.
The workshop was a small event, with only a couple of dozens of participants which I think was a good choice for the first conference attended as IDEAS researchers, since it gave us the opportunity to tell others about our projects and the network we are part of. I particularly liked that the relatively small number of participants provided an optimal platform for valuable communication. We didn’t have to feel overwhelmed with the amount of presentations and a huge number of attendees. Such small size of the workshop made you really feel that you were a part of the group and it allowed you to get to know other researchers.
I was told that these annual meetings started as a kind of mysterious get-togethers in the Austrian Alps, where brilliant minds wrote articles that developed the basis of this field. Now not so secretive, the scientific program of the conference consisted of 7 sessions: 3 on multiple testing procedures and 4 on adaptive designs. The topics presented included among others tests adjusting for multiplicity, biomarker-enrichment trials, subgroup selection methodology, or sample size re-estimation. Each session contained 3 or 4 talks that were somehow related, providing a smooth transition from a talk to talk. The sessions were separated with 20-minute breaks, allowing us to get the dose of coffee you need to keep your brain working, as well as to interact with the speakers or other researchers and exchange comments
Presentation of Laura Kohlhas, University of Heidelberg about “Timing of subgroup selection in adaptive enrichment designs”
The content of the work presented was of very good quality. I must admit that the concepts of some presentations were brand new to me and therefore a little difficult to follow. But hopefully things will get easier when we advance in our research. On the other side, I was left with mixed feelings in some of the presentations. I think that some of us, young researchers, could benefit from having more practice in public speaking and scientific dissemination, and from focusing more on real and grounded applications.
The program also included an administrative meeting of the Working Group, in which we had the opportunity to vote for the chair and vice-chair of the group, as well as the venue for the meeting in 2017. Florian Klinglmueller from the Medical University of Vienna was elected to lead the group for the next two years; and the Adaptive Designs and Multiple Testing Procedures Workshop 2017 will be held in Cambridge, UK, to be organized jointly with the Adaptive Designs Working Group of the Medical Research Council – Hubs for Trials Methodology Research in the UK.
IDEAS ESRs Julia and Elvira , talking to other researchers, Robbie and Haiko during the coffee break (surprisingly no coffee….)
Overall, the workshop has proven to be a great opportunity to obtain up-to-date knowledge from peers in our field, both well-established researchers and other PhD students, and gather new ideas that could be used for my research projects.
Extra info that you do not need to know: If you think that adventures in the world of statistics cannot get better, you are so wrong. The organizers also planned a social program at the end of the sessions of the first day, consisting of a guided tour of the Palazzo Bo -the historic part of the University of Padova- including the 16th-century world’s first permanent anatomical theatre and its Aula Magna, which is house of the podium which was used by Galileo itself. The tour was followed by an Italian aperitivo at a bar in the main square and a dinner in which we tasted local (Italian!) seafood specialties. This social program gave us the opportunity to more cooperative interactions, this time in a more relaxed environment. For example, I had the opportunity to talk to the elected-chair about the future of the working group and his ideas to leverage the efforts in the upcoming years.
The official activities of the workshop finished on Friday around 6pm, but most of us continued together for dinner and took the advantage to relax, eat the real Italian pizza and strengthen our relationships. Since our trips home were scheduled on Saturday afternoon, we wandered around Venezia for a couple of hours. We had a great time while eating pasta and ice-cream, chatting about statistics, study, living in a foreign country, and life in general. The perks of being an IDEAS researchers…
Venezia and the only picture we could take without tourists