Announcing September BEMC Talk

Dear Berlin-area Epidemiological Methods Enthusiasts,

You are invited to our next BEMC Talk on Wednesday, September 4th. Please note the location — CVK, Forum 3, Hörsaal 3, 13353 – Campus Virchow Clinic. 

BEMC Talk: Wednesday, September 4th, 2019 @ 4pm

“An introduction to precisely and ggdag: Tools for modern methods in R” – Malcolm Barrett, California

  • Please register online:
  • Description: “Modern epidemiology gives us insight into study planning and causal inference, but the success of these approaches require friendly and accessible software. I will discuss two R packages for modern methods in study design and causal inference: precisely and ggdag. precisely is a study planning tool to calculate sample size based on precision rather than power. Calculating sample size based on precision focuses on the width of the confidence interval instead of statistical significance. precisely is a fast and flexible R implementation of the work by Rothman and Greenland on this subject, including a Shiny web app for calculating sample size. ggdag is a toolkit for working with causal directed acyclic graphs (DAGs), a central tool in causal inference. DAGs help identify many types of bias, such as confounding, selection bias, and measurement error, as well as tell us how to correct for it. ggdag makes it easy to create, analyze, and plot DAGs in ggplot2.
  • **Location change: CVK, Forum 3, Hörsaal 3, 13353 – Campus Virchow Clinic

Upcoming Berlin Epi Events:

  • September 18th – BEMC JClub – Paper posted online
  • October 2nd – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online
  • Wednesday, October 23rd – IPH Lecture Partner event– John Gill from Vancouver
    • Charite Mitte Campus, COO starting at 4pm
  • November 6th – BEMC Talk – “The causes of the causes in context: confronting the burden of proof in lifecourse and social epidemiology” – Michelle Kelly-Irving, Toulouse
  • November 20th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online
  • December 4th – BEMC Talk – Uwe Siebert, Hall in Tirol
  • December 18th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online

Interested in other Institute of Public Health events? Visit our calendar to check out upcoming conferences & short courses!

Follow BEMC on Twitter and leave questions for our speakers: @BEMColloquium

Announcing May BEMC Talk

Dear Berlin-area Epidemiological Methods Enthusiasts,

You are invited to our next BEMC Talk on Wednesday, May 8th.

BEMC Talk: Wednesday, May 8th, 2019 @ 4pm

“Machine learning for population-based health studies” – Christoph Lippert, Potsdam

  • Please register online: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe2EfMPM2lXX1etpLblhLzDcfM0In9wLoTc3wUSWHD3Q5iVGw/viewform?usp=sf_link
    • If the registration link does not work for you please send us an email at bemcolloquium(at)charite.de with your full name and email address and short note that you’d like to be added to the registration list. Thanks!
  • Description: “In my talk, I’ll introduce our research at the interface of machine learning and statistics towards new methods for large-scale epidemiologic studies. We are working on models and algorithms that allow us to analyze high-dimensional genotypes and phenotypes from imaging and sequencing at scale. I’ll be talking about our work on mixed models for confounder correction, quantitative phenotyping using deep learning, as well as our works on novel statistical tests on deep learning embeddings of images.”
  • Location: Seminar room of the Neurology Clinic; Bonhoefferweg 3 entrance, 3rdfloor, Charité – Campus Mitte

Upcoming Berlin Epi Events:

  • May 15th – BEMC JClub – Paper posted online
  • June 5th – BEMC Talk – “Cool applications in R for epidemiologists” – Jochen Kruppa, Berlin
  • June 19th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online
  • July 3rd – BEMC Talk Suzanne Cannigieter, Leiden, Netherlands
  • July 19th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online in late May
  • August 2019 – no BEMC Talk or JClub
  • September 19th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online in late July
  • October 2nd – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online in late August
  • Wednesday, October 23rd – IPH Lecture Partner event– John Gill from Vancouver

Interested in other Institute of Public Health events? Visit our calendar to check out upcoming conferences & short courses!

Follow BEMC on Twitter and leave questions for our speakers: @BEMColloquium

Pamela Rist, “One Size Does Not Fit All: Teaching Introductory Epidemiology” — Student summary

Dear BEMCers,

We are pleased to be able to share a summary prepared by three students who are currently earning credit for participating in the BEMC. A warm thank you to the three anonymous students for letting us share a compilation of their summaries!

As a reminder, we will be having BEMC JClub next Wednesday. A link to the article is available under JCLUB.

On Wednesday, April 3rd, Pamela Rist, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, held a lecture about different ways to teach introductory courses in epidemiology. She teaches intro epi classes for medical staff and public health professionals, at undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels.

Rist started her lecture by presenting how she first introduces the concept of confounding in her classes. Touching only the most basic aspects, the concept is simple to understand. However, it becomes inaccurate when moving on to more complex causal relations: It does not consider (open) backdoor paths, for instance. This, according to Rist, illustrates the difficulty of teaching: One has to introduce topics in a way that is understandable to the audience but does not cause problems later on for those who progress to substantial classes. Ultimately, there can be a trade-off between an intuitive and a correct definition.

She further explained that what should be thought of in an epidemiology introductory course depends on the type of audience, the skill set they need to learn in their career tracks, the goals of the course and structural issues. This appears to be particularly challenging since these courses are usually characterized by a considerable audience heterogeneity: students have different backgrounds, different coursework and different degrees of interest.

A successful technique to capture an audience’s attention, and to let students understand the importance of the epidemiology in their own field, might be to use different examples and papers based on the audience’s field of interest. In addition, Rist stated that even the way epidemiological concepts are explained should be flexible: using not only medical but also general knowledge examples to explain complex concepts (she provided a striking example explaining the Selection Bias using NBA players as subject).

Lastly, Rist introduced different teaching forms she uses: seminars, online lectures, inverted classrooms and discussed possible advantages as well as drawbacks. Seminars are a good learning environment, however small groups are required for discussion. Therefore, several rooms need to be available as well as teaching assistants to lead the seminars. If the setting does not allow this, Rist advised including live polls in large lectures and polling twice: The first time the students answer the question alone, the second time after discussion with neighbors. In this way, an active element can be incorporated into the lectures and students can learn from one-another. Rist also gave voice to her concern that setting up online lectures for the first time requires intensive preparation.

Discussion:
Q: Where do you find the papers for the discussion with students?
A: Science and Health sections of Times, JAMA, NEJM, Lancet. Talking to family and friends about current issues.
Q: Do you discuss good or bad papers?
A: I try not to focus only on poorly written papers. Sometimes I use also older papers to discuss the constraints of older methodology.
Q: What role does the student evaluation play for your next course?
A: Our course evaluations are done externally and anonymously, but I do read them. I find them to be useful and definitely try to adjust based on feedback where possible.
Q: How do you measure the success of your teaching? Do you have a special format for the exams (multiple choice etc.)?
A: Formally, the school measures the success of the lecture on 1-5 scale (teachers must score at least 3.5 to be allowed to teach the following semester). Informally, by student reactions. In terms of exams: we use tests with multiple choice, true/false, and fill in the blank questions for Master’s students (the class size is quite large and there isn’t much time between the final exam and when grades are due) and essays for PhD students.

Announcing April BEMC Talk

Dear Berlin-area Epidemiological Methods Enthusiasts,

You are invited to our next BEMC Talk on Wednesday, April 3rd.

BEMC Talk: Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 @ 4pm

“One Size Does Not Fit All: Teaching Introductory Epidemiology” – Pamela Rist, Boston, USA

  • Please register online: https://goo.gl/forms/pbE7UfFAEX2V1oxG2
  • Description: “As epidemiological methods have advanced, there has been debate over whether introductory epidemiology courses should be updated to include more “modern” concepts or if the material covered in introductory courses should remain constant.  Additionally, introductory courses greatly differ in length and scope, and since they are offered to students with diverse backgrounds and career goals, it is unlikely that one static course will fit all students’ needs. Sometimes, ‘teaching’ epidemiology happens more informally outside the classroom, such as in small consultation sessions or even when coauthoring a manuscript. In this lecture, we will discuss important considerations when developing introductory epidemiology course material, examples of ways to incorporate modern epidemiology concepts, and strategies to tailor the instruction to fit your audience’s needs.”
  • Location: Neurology Seminar Room, Charite Campus Mitte, Bonhoefferweg 3, 1. Etage (look for our BEMC signs)

Upcoming Berlin Epi Events:

  • April 17th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online
  • May 8th – BEMC Talk – “Machine Learning for Population-Based Health Studies” – Christoph Lippert, Potsdam
  • May 15th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online
  • June 5th – BEMC Talk – “Cool applications in R for epidemiologists” – Jochen Kruppa, Berlin
  • June 19th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online
  • July 3rd – BEMC Talk – Tentative title: “Pragmatic trials and lessons from venous thrombosis” – Suzanne Cannigieter, Leiden

Interested in other Institute of Public Health events? Visit our calendar to check out upcoming conferences & short courses!

Follow BEMC on Twitter and leave questions for our speakers: @BEMColloquium

Maarten van Smeden, Regression shrinkage: better answers to causal questions

Dear BEMCers,

We are pleased to be able to share a summary prepared by a student earning credit for participating in the BEMC. A warm thank you to Ana Sofia Oliveira Gonḉalves for letting us share her summary!

Maarten’s slides can be found online: https://www.slideshare.net/MaartenvanSmeden/regression-shrinkage-better-answers-to-causal-questions

As a reminder, we will be having BEMC JClub on Wednesday this week. A link to the article is available under JCLUB.

On Wednesday March 6th, Maarten van Smeden, a senior researcher from the Leiden University Medical Center (NL) shared with the audience valuable insights on coefficient shrinkage in regression, both in a prediction and in a causal research context, with a focus on the latter. The starting point of this lecture was to question the appropriateness of traditional ways of computing the odds ratios (e.g. in a 2×2 table or by standard logistic regressions based on maximum likelihood estimation). Maarten explained that the maximum likelihood estimators for regression coefficients in generalized linear models are biased but consistent.

Throughout the lecture, Maarten used simple logistic regression model as an example. Based on such a model, he provided us with graphical representations of his simulations to show the properties of such estimators. With this simulation he intended to stress the difference between the two concepts of lack of bias and consistency. He then presented us with a solution for the reduction of bias for maximum likelihood estimators: Firth’s correction.

Firth’s correction is a penalized estimation procedure that shrinks regression coefficients, thereby removing a large part of the finite sample bias. The Firth’s correction can be readily implemented in a causal research context and packages in statistical programs already exist. Maarten mentioned other shrinkage estimators, such as Ridge or LASSO can conducted for prediction purposes, since biased coefficients are better suited for this purpose. Nevertheless, he warned the audience against its use in a causal inference context, since these approaches are designed to create bias in coefficient estimators, rather than to remove it.

Announcing March BEMC Talk

Dear Berlin-area Epidemiological Methods Enthusiasts,

You are invited to our next BEMC Talk on Wednesday, March 6th. Also join us this week for the BEMC Journal Club! The paper is already posted online.

BEMC Talk: Wednesday, March 6th, 2019 @ 4pm

“Regression shrinkage: better answers to causal questions” – Maarten van Smeden, Leiden

  • Please register online: https://goo.gl/forms/EdISo4yoZQhepGNY2
  • Description: “In this lecture, I will discuss regression shrinkage in the context of causal epidemiologic research. Although regression shrinkage methods have predominantly been used in prediction research (i.e. not to answer causal questions) to avoid statistical overfitting, I will posit the view that some of these methods can also improve estimates of exposure-outcome relationships. In particular, I will illustrate how a simple-to-apply approach known as Firth’s correction removes an often overlooked estimation bias in conventional regression analyses such as logistic regression.
  • Location: Seminar room of the Neurology Clinic; Bonhoefferweg 3 entrance, 3rdfloor, Charité – Campus Mitte

Upcoming Berlin Epi Events:

  • February 20st– BEMC JClub – Paper posted online
  • March 6th– BEMC Talk  “Shrinkage for causal inference” – Maarten van Smeden, Leiden
  • March 20th – BEMC JClub – Paper posted online
  • April 3rd – BEMC Talk –”One Size Does Not Fit All: Teaching Introductory Epidemiology” –Pamela Rist, Boston
  • April 17th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online in late February
  • May 8th– BEMC Talk – “Machine Learning for Population-Based Health Studies” – Christoph Lippert, Potsdam
  • May 15th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online in late March
  • June 5th – BEMC Talk – “Cool applications in R for epidemiologists” – Jochen Kruppa, Berlin

Interested in other Institute of Public Health events? Visit our calendar to check out upcoming conferences & short courses!

Follow BEMC on Twitter and leave questions for our speakers: @BEMColloquium

Announcing February BEMC Talk

Dear Berlin-area Epidemiological Methods Enthusiasts,

Thank you for participating in our 2018 BEMC Talks! We will be taking a short break in January and look forwarding to seeing you again in February!

You are invited to our next BEMC Talk on Wednesday, February 6th.

BEMC Talk: Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 @ 4pm

“The use of time-depending propensity score matching to address changes of treatment and covariates over time” – Lars Andersen, Aarhus, Denmark

  • Please register online: https://goo.gl/forms/jKhS5kVGIR0fTvX03
  • Description: “Time-related biases, such as immortal time bias, are well-known within the epidemiology literature. However, they continue to be a problem in the published medical literature. The lecture will focus on time-related bias and how they can be effectively addressed using a combination of risk set matching and time-dependent propensity scores. Studies with cardiac arrest, where a specific type of time-related bias (“resuscitation time bias”) is a problem, will be used as examples.”
  • Location: Virchow-Saal, Philippstr. 11, Charité – Campus Mitte (this location is only for December 2018 and February 2019)

Upcoming Berlin Epi Events:

  • February 20th – BEMC JClub  – Paper posted online
  • March 6th – BEMC Talk  “Shrinkage for causal inference” Maarten van Smeden, Leiden
  • March 20th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online in late January
  • April 3rd – BEMC Talk Pamela Rist, Boston
  • April 17th – BEMC JClub – Paper will be posted online in late February
  • Tuesday, May 7th – IPH Lecture (no BEMC Talk in May)– Frits Rosendaal from Leiden

Interested in other Institute of Public Health events? Visit our calendar to check out upcoming conferences & short courses!

Follow BEMC on Twitter and leave questions for our speakers: @BEMColloquium

Announcing December BEMC Talk

Dear Berlin-area Epidemiological Methods Enthusiasts,

You are invited to our next BEMC Talk on Wednesday, December 5th.

BEMC Talk: Wednesday, December 5th, 2018 @ 4pm

“This talk has no title” – James Robins, Boston

  • We have reached capacity for the lecture hall. Please understand our inability to accept walk-ins today.
  • Description: “Dr. Robins is the Mitchell L. and Robin LaFoley Dong Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. He is a renowned epidemiologist and biostatistician, as well as an award-winning mentor. His contributions to quantitative methods helped define modern epidemiology. In addition to leading the movement to improve methods for causal inference in observational health research studies, Dr. Robins developed novel methods for evaluating time-varying exposures, including structural nested models and marginal structural models. His recent work has addressed diverse domains including higher order influence function estimators, identification of effects with instrumental variables, enhancing the validity of per-protocol analyses of trials, and integrating empirical and simulation studies. We offer no title for the talk because Dr. Robins’ public lectures are notoriously unpredictable, but they are reliably entertaining, provocative, and insightful.”
  • Location: Virchow-Saal, Philippstr. 11, Charité – Campus Mitte (this location is only for December)

Upcoming Berlin Epi Events:

  • Nov 14th @ 4pm – BEMC JClub  – Paper posted online
  • Dec 19th @ 4pm – BEMC JClub Cancelled. 
  • January – BEMC Events Cancelled. See you in February!
  • February 6th  – BEMC Talk  “Time-related biases and the use of propensity scores to address those” Lars Andersen, Copenhagen
  • Feb 14th @ 4pm – BEMC JClub  – Paper will be posted online in late January

Interested in other Institute of Public Health events? Visit our calendar to check out upcoming conferences & short courses!

Follow BEMC on Twitter and leave questions for our speakers: @BEMColloquium

Announcing November BEMC Talk

Dear Berlin-area Epidemiological Methods Enthusiasts,

You are invited to our next BEMC Talk on Wednesday, November 7th.

BEMC Talk: Wednesday, November 7th, 2018 @ 4pm

“Multi state modelling in chronic diseases” – Dr. Ralph Brinks, Düsseldorf

  • If you haven’t already done so, please register in advance: https://goo.gl/forms/sfxMmTOg51egpMeh2
  • Description: “Multi-state models are a useful extension of the epidemiologist’s toolbox. The classical illness-death model gains fundamental insights about relations between the prevalence and incidence of a chronic disease – insights beyond the folkloristic ‘prevalence odds equals incidence times duration’.  A variety of applications is presented, e.g. diabetes and rheumatic diseases in the study of dementia. With a simple extension, the illness-death model is helpful in studying diseases with a prolonged state of undiagnosed disease such as hypertension or cancer.
  • Location: Seminar room of the Neurology Clinic; Bonhoefferweg 3 entrance, 3rd floor, Charité – Campus Mitte

Upcoming Berlin Epi Events:

  • Nov 14th @ 4pm – BEMC JClub  – Paper posted online
  • December 5th – BEMC Talk – “This talk has to title” – Professor James Robins, Boston (location: Virchow-Saal, Philippstr. 12, Charite Campus Mitte)
  • Dec 19th @ 4pm – BEMC JClub Cancelled. 
  • January – Winter Break, no BEMC
  • February 6th – BEMC Talk – “Time-related biases and the use of propensity scores to address those” – Professor Lars Andersen, Copenhagen

Interested in other Institute of Public Health events? Visit our calendar to check out upcoming conferences & short courses!

Follow BEMC on Twitter and leave questions for our speakers: @BEMColloquium