Monday, 5 March 2018


Together with colleagues around the UK, we're organising a workshop on the use of R for statistical modelling in health economic evaluation (broadly speaking, "cost-effectiveness analysis").

It's good that this is exciting news (contributing to taking my mind off all the politics & elections in the world...). But I think this really is exciting news, with a very good line up of speakers/talks. And I really think the objectives of this workshop are very interesting $-$ I think, ultimately, we'll aim at also creating a repository for files/examples/models/templates so that people can start using R for their health economic modelling more and more.

Details below $-$ and Howard tells me the spaces are filling up very quickly...

One-day workshop on R for trial and model-based cost-effectiveness analysis
Date: 11th July 2018.
Organizer: Howard Thom, Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol.

It is our pleasure to announce a one-day workshop on the use of R for trial and model-based cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA). CEA is often done using Excel but, despite its ease of use, Excel incurs the disadvantages of slow computational speed and a lack of transparency; our workshop aims to explore the use of R for CEA as an alternative. A wide range of technical aspects, including a discussion of the many available add-on packages, will be presented to help users get the most out of R for CEA. Presentations and public discussions will address the computational and transparency advantages of R over Excel for CEA and for easing collaboration. Our expert speakers have diverse experience in government (including NICE), academia, and industry. There will also be a contributed oral presentation session and a poster session for which we invite  the submission of abstracts. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.  A preliminary programme is below. 

There is no registration deadline, but places are limited so it is recommended to register soon.

To submit an abstract, please send it to with the subject “R for CEA abstract”. The word limit is 300. Please specific whether the abstract is for oral or poster presentation, or if either is acceptable. Note that only 4 oral presentation slots are available. Abstract submission deadline is 15th May and the scientific committee will make decisions on acceptance by 1st June 2018.

If you have any further queries please contact me on

Best wishes,

Scientific committee:
Howard Thom. Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol.
Claire Williams. Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol.
Nicky Welton. Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol.
Padraig Dixon. Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol.
Gianluca Baio. Department of Statistical Science, University College London.
Anthony Hatswell. Delta Hat Analytics, UK; Department of Statistical Science, University College London.
Marta Soares. Centre for Health Economics, University of York
Dyfrig Hughes. Centre for Health Economics & Medicines Evaluation, Bangor University
Chris Jackson. Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge
Boby Mihaylova. Health Economics Research Centre, Nuffield Department of Public Health, University of Oxford.
Iryna Schlackow. Health Economics Research Centre, Nuffield Department of Public Health, University of Oxford.

Preliminary Program
9:30-9:45. Howard Thom. Welcome.
9:45-10:15. Gianluca Baio. Department of Statistical Science, University College London.
R you seriously saying we shouldn't use Excel?
This talk will showcase some of the R packages recently developed to aid the work of modellers working in health economic evaluations. The motivation and general philosophy of a few packages will be briefly presented. Examples of their use/advantages over more established, but often non-optimal computational tools, such as MS Excel will be demonstrated.
10:15-11:25. Marta Soares. Centre for Health Economics, University of York
Using R for Markov modelling: an introduction.
This talk introduces the use of R for generic decision modelling detailing some of the advantages and disadvantages of this software package in relation to others commonly used, such as MS Excel. In this talk, I also present generic R code for Markov modelling, probabilistic sensitivity analyses and value of information analyses (using Monte Carlo simulation).
A policy model of cardiovascular disease in moderate-to-advanced chronic kidney disease
This talk will present the design and structure in R of the SHARP CKD-CVD model, developed using the 5-years follow-up data of 10,000 patients with chronic kidney disease in the SHARP study.  The model projects chronic kidney disease progression and cardiovascular complications and mortality using a set of multivariate risk, cost and QoL equations. We will demonstrate the R Shiny-based model interface to enable use by external analysts and will discuss issues related to model functionality and speed of execution.
11:05-11:20. Coffee
11:20-12:20. Participants oral presentation session (4 speakers, 15 minutes each)
12:20-13:45. Lunch and poster presentations.
13:45-14:00. Dyfrig Hughes. Centre for Health Economics & Medicines Evaluation, Bangor University
Health technology assessors' perspectives on R
This session will present the perspectives of members of NICE evidence review groups, AWMSG secretariat and SMC independent assessors on sponsor submissions using R. The skill requirements, confidence and expertise of these groups in using R will also be discussed.
14:00-14:15. Howard Thom.
Value of information analysis in R.
This session will cover the methods for value of information analysis that can be implemented in R, including linearization, brute force Monte Carlo simulation, parallel computing, meta-modelling, multilevel Monte Carlo and quasi Monte Carlo.
14:15-14:25. Chris Jackson. Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge
Continuous-time multi-state models for disease progression
This session will introduce the theory of modelling disease progression as a continuous-time multi-state process, and how this can be used in cost-effectiveness analysis. R software for continuous-time modelling of various patterns of observed data will be discussed.
14:25-14:45. Claire Williams. Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol.
An overview of a suite of code and functions for CEA in R using continuous-time multi-state modelling
This session will give a brief snapshot of the code already available in a tutorial paper detailing how to carry out Markov and semi-Markov modelling using the continuous-time multi-state modelling survival analysis framework. It will include how to carry out deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analysis and appropriate graphical outputs.
14:45-15:00. Coffee
Existing frameworks for collaborative working
This session will outline various ways of working currently used in collaborative efforts in the health economics and connected spheres. The pros and cons of each approach will be outlines, and how the use of R may be promoted under each of the scenarios.
15:15-16:30. Participant discussion.

16:30-16:45. Howard Thom. Close and conclusions.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Job advert

We have a job opening at UCL $-$ this time is in the Institute of Clinical Trials & Methodology and is for a Research Associate in Health Economics. Full details below.

Applications are invited for a Research Associate in Health Economics to join the growing number of health economics researchers at UCL and its partner institutions. The post will join the Health Economics Analysis and Research Methodology Team in the Institute for Clinical Trials and Methodology (ICTM) at UCL, working primarily with the Comprehensive Clinical Trials Unit (CCTU).

The post focuses primarily on economic evaluations and decision modelling alongside randomised controlled trials and provides a unique opportunity for a researcher in health economics who would like training and hands on experience of economic evaluations using trial data. The CCTU has a growing portfolio of large, multi-centre randomised control trials in pharmaceutical, surgical and specialist interventions providing the post holder with experience in the design, conduct and analysis of these trials. As a member of the CCTU you will be involved in the health economic components throughout the lifetime of the trial. Training and support will be provided by your colleagues in the Health Economics Analysis and Research Methodology Team to provide you with the skills you need to confidently undertake your role. The post also provides the opportunity for the successful applicant to pursue their own research interests.

For more information or to apply for this role please go to:

Salary: £34,635 to £41,864

The post is for 1 year in the first instance, but with the potential to extend this.

Closing date for applications: 1 April 2018

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Commonwealth Games

Earlier this week, we found out that we have secured the Commonwealth Share Scholarship for our Master Programme in Health Economics & Decision Science.

The Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme is a joint initiative between the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (with funding from the Department for International Development (DFID), and UK universities, to support scholarships for students from developing Commonwealth countries who would not otherwise be able to study in the United Kingdom.

The aim of the scheme is to assist students from developing Commonwealth countries who are of excellent academic calibre but for financial reasons would not otherwise be able to afford to study in the United Kingdom. The scheme allows them to benefit from postgraduate study at a university in the United Kingdom which will help them to contribute toward the development of their home countries.

Applicants must:

  • Be a Commonwealth citizen, refugee, or British protected person;
  • Be permanently resident in a developing Commonwealth country (for a full list of eligible countries, see the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission terms and conditions;
  • Be available to start your academic studies in the UK by the start of the UK academic year in September/October 2018;
  • By August 2018, hold a first degree of either first or upper second class (2:1) classification, or lower second class (2:2) classification plus a relevant postgraduate qualification (usually a Master’s degree);
  • Not have studied or worked for one (academic) year or more in a developed country;
  • Be unable, either yourself or through your family, to pay to study in the UK.
More info here.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Significance early-career writing competition

We've just issued the call for entries for our 2018 writing competition for early-career statisticians. Details of the competition are available online here.

The competition is open to: (1) Students currently studying for a first degree, Master's or PhD in statistics or related subjects; and (2) Graduates whose last qualification in statistics or related subjects (whether first degree, Master's or PhD) was not more than five years ago.

Last year’s winner, Kevin Lin, analysed user activity on the social media site, Reddit, to see whether young people were now more engaged with political news and topics. The year before that, Adam B. Kashlak won for his analysis of State of the Union addresses throughout history, showing how use of the word “America” by sitting US presidents had increased over time.

The closing date is 28 May 2018.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018


Yesterday, we held our UCL Health Economics Network Symposium. 

Kobi has been poorly since Friday, which of course has coincide with a particularly busy week end/start to the new week... Sunday night was particularly bad and we managed to accomplish a trip to A&E (luckily all is good) and some healthy running around so that someone was at home with him at any given time, while teaching and, in fact, going to the Symposium (the picture to the left shows Marta and I practising our acro-juggling...).

Anyway, despite being low on sleep and rather high on coffee, I managed to talk about our work on Bayesian modelling on missing data in health economic evaluation and our research group in general $-$ Anna and Spyros also presented nice posters about their respective work. Copies of the slides that were presented yesterday are also available here.

I think the event (or to be more precise, what I managed to catch of it) was very interesting and we attracted a varied range of people from within and outside academia, which was really one of the main objectives. And I think the plan is to turn this into an annual event.

Sunday, 21 January 2018

PhD studentships @ UCL

My department at UCL has been allocated 1 EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) award for 2018/19. The award will be 4 years in duration (or 6 years for part-time candidates), covering UK/EU fees, minimum RCUK stipend and a small allowance for consumables. To be eligible for the full award a student must have no restrictions on how long they can stay in the UK and have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the studentship.

Marta and I have a joint project on "An integrated Bayesian approach in air pollution and health studies: linking exposure, health and economic evaluation", which is basically a 50:50 mixture of hers and my own signature dishes... Not as fancy as the stuff we've done together in the past $-$ but probably a tiny bit more relevant...

The advert is now live on the UCL website (amongst other places).

Friday, 19 January 2018

501 days of Summer (school)

As I anticipated earlier, we're now ready to open registration for our Summer School in Florence (I was waiting for UCL to set up the registration system and thought it may take much longer than it actually did $-$ so well done UCL!).

We'll probably have a few changes here and there in the timetable $-$ we're thinking of introducing some new topics and I think I'll certainly merge a couple of my intro lectures, to leave some time for those... 

Nothing is fixed yet and we're in the process of deliberating all the changes $-$ but I'll post as soon as we have a clearer plan for the revised timetable.

Here's the advert (which I've sent out to some relevant mailing list, also).

Summer school: Bayesian methods in health economics
Date: 4-8 June 2018
Venue: CISL Study Center, Florence (Italy)

COURSE ORGANISERS: Gianluca Baio, Chris Jackson, Nicky Welton, Mark Strong, Anna Heath

This summer school is intended to provide an introduction to Bayesian analysis and MCMC methods using R and MCMC sampling software (such as OpenBUGS and JAGS), as applied to cost-effectiveness analysis and typical models used in health economic evaluations. We will present a range of modelling strategies for cost-effectiveness analysis as well as recent methodological developments for the analysis of the value of information.

The course is intended for health economists, statisticians, and decision modellers interested in the practice of Bayesian modelling and will be based on a mixture of lectures and computer practicals, although the emphasis will be on examples of applied analysis: software and code to carry out the analyses will be provided. Participants are encouraged to bring their own laptops for the practicals.

We shall assume a basic knowledge of standard methods in health economics and some familiarity with a range of probability distributions, regression analysis, Markov models and random-effects meta-analysis. However, statistical concepts are reviewed in the context of applied health economic evaluations in the lectures.

The summer school is hosted in the beautiful complex of the Centro Studi Cisl, overlooking and a short distance from Florence (Italy). The registration fees include full board accommodation in the Centro Studi. 

More information can be found at the summer school webpage. Registration is available from the UCL Store. For more details or enquiries, email Dr Gianluca Baio.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

If you've got an issue...

I've just got an email alert to the very last issue of Medical Decision Making, which I found very, very interesting.

I knew of a couple of papers through either reviewing or other means, but I have to say, by looking at titles & abstracts, there's quite a few of interesting reads out there... Will need to find the time to do some proper reading, I think.