Frontiers in Biostatistics: Celebrating 10 years of ViCBiostat

Thank you to all our special invited guests, speakers and audience members (both in person and on Zoom) who joined us at the Melbourne Brain Centre on the 7th of June to celebrate our 10-year anniversary.

Founding members of the network Julie Simpson, John Carlin and Andrew Forbes provided an overview of where the network started, the accomplishments of members throughout the years, and the future frontiers for biostatistics research.

We were delighted to be joined by senior leaders from each collaborating site who shared their views on the importance of strong biostatistical leadership in underpinning the quality of their institution’s research activity and driving future developments. Thanks to Prof. Kathryn North (Director, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute), Prof. Jane Gunn (Dean, Faculty of Medicine Dentistry and Health Sciences, University of Melbourne) and Prof. Sophia Zoungas (Head of School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University) for your insights and continued support.

Since its inception in 2012 as an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence, ViCBiostat has trained 15 postdoctoral researchers and seen 22 PhD students complete. Currently, there are 10 PhDs in progress and a strong network of 20 postdoctoral researchers across the network. Over 150 publications on the development or evaluation of methodological research have been authored by members of the network and the annual Summer School training workshops have trained hundreds of researchers – locally, interstate and even internationally.

As John Carlin noted “the network has established the next generation of mid-career leaders where pathways were previously unavailable”. Three of these high-flying alumni (and current Executive members) shared overviews of their research streams and team development over the years.

Andrew Forbes outlined the key challenges for the next 10 years of ViCBiostat and biostatistics more broadly – funding support, recognition of the discipline and representation on review panels – as well as potential opportunities for embedding methodological work within applied projects including “big data” projects. Andrew noted the role of ViCBiostat leadership in the successful establishment via the Biostatistics Collaboration of Australia (BCA) of a national Master of Biostatistics program that has substantially bolstered the workforce and now regularly produces strong candidates for PhD training.

Emily Karahalios provided insights on her mid-career experience that balances ongoing research and collaboration with coordinating the University of Melbourne (BCA-affiliated) Masters of Biostatistics.

We hope to see you again for the 20th Anniversary celebration!