Highlights from the JSM 2018 Conference

August 31, 2018


JSM 2018, ASA’s annual gathering of over 6500 attendees attracted statisticians and data scientists to the beautiful city of Vancouver on July 28 – August 2. The conference offers a one of a kind opportunity for statisticians to exchange ideas and explore opportunities for collaboration. In this blog, we will provide access to our team's slide decks from the event, as well as some of their key takeaways from sessions that they attended.

Adam HammAdam Hamm, Director, Head of Biostatistics commented “JSM was a huge success for me personally and also for Cytel in my opinion. The quality of the sessions and presentations this year was extremely high and I was able to attend sessions that were extremely relevant to what I do at Cytel. At the Cytel booth I met with a variety of different associates from various companies, all with very diverse professional backgrounds. It is always enjoyable to find out where others in the industry are in their careers, as that is not the type of communication we usually have on a regular basis. 


NatasaNatasa Rajicic, Senior Director, Strategic Consulting said, “JSM is always a wonderful occasion to reconnect with old friends, but also to meet new and interesting connections. I reconnected with several former colleagues, and had a short, but wonderful coffee break with data science expert E. James Harner, Professor Emeritus of Statistics and Adjunct Professor of Management Information Systems at West Virginia University. Professor Harner, who is also my former mentor and adviser, introduced his students to object-oriented programming way before R existed, by teaching LISP and S-Plus, and has contributed to me being comfortable trying out and learning new software throughout my career.


JSM Contributed Sessions Featuring Cytel Statisticians


Cytel statisticians once again made important contributions at JSM:

“An Adaptive Dose Selection Case Study: Statistical Methods and Operational Considerations”
Adam Hamm, Cytel

“Tools and Techniques for Blinded Data Reviews in Ongoing Clinical Trials”
Hrishikesh Kulkarni, Cytel and Suresh Ankolekar, Cytel

“Four Decades of Statistical Consulting”
Natasa Rajicic, Cytel

“A Case Study of a Bayesian Adaptive Dose-Finding Phase 2 Trial Design Using Go/No-Go Criteria and Adaptive Randomization”
James Bolognese, Cytel and Ye Ting Du, Cytel ( presented by Charles Liu)

“Combining Confidence Distributions Rare Event Meta-Analysis”
Pralay Senchaudhuri, Cytel

Click the button below to access their slides for a limited time.

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Key takeaways from the team

“Four Decades of Statistical Consulting”
Adam Hamm, Director, Head of Biostatistics was particularly interested in this panel discussion. The panel included respected Statistical Consultants with decades of experience in the field. During the discussion, Natasa Rajicic, Senior Director of Strategic Consultant at Cytel, emphasized those attributes she’s determined are key to being an effective consulting statistician, including the value of persistence.

Key takeaway
Adam was pleased to hear that seasoned statisticians experience similar issues and anxieties in going through their day to day activities. It shows that we all must work together and trust our teams to be able to experience professional success.

“Benefit Cost Ratio Analysis in Oncology Drug Development: Single Arm vs RCT”
Natasa Rajicic, Senior Director, Strategic Consulting was delighted to attend this presentation. The session, presented by Thomas Jemielita and Cong Chen from Merck, introduced a benefit cost ratio (BCR) which incorporates uncertainty of how likely a study drug is to work. It also examined type design parameters such as (expected) Type I and Type II error, sample size, as well as uncertainty of historical control estimates.

Key take away
Natasa thought this presentation had an interesting approach to deciding which tumor type to investigate and whether to proceed with single-arm or a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Some takeaways were that single arm trial (comparison to Hx control) were favored when there is low uncertainty in the historical data and smaller Phase 3 trials are predicted. RCT are favored when tumor types with highest probability of success can be identified.

“Drug Safety Monitoring in a Complex World-Wide Regulatory Environment - Strategy Meets Methodologies”
Sourav Santra, Director of Biostatistics, attended this session to learn about the complex interdisciplinary work of drug safety. Two highly experienced leaders in the drug safety area were the organizer and chair, one from the FDA with enormous experience from the industry (Susan Duke) and one with vast experience from the sponsor side, who is leading safety biostatistics activities from a specialized CRO, ACI (Amit Bhattacharyya). The session covered a variety of viewpoints from regulatory, sponsors and CROs.

Key takeaway
Sourav observed that for the first time in his experience at JSM there were physicians, or non-statisticians, taking the lead to discuss the multifaceted drug safety environment. Sourav would like to see more such collaborative sessions. He is proud to be a part of this high-level, high-energy working group. 

New OKGO™ Software 
JSM gave Cytel the perfect opportunity to showcase OKGO™, our new clinical trial Go/No-Go decision-making software developed in collaboration with AstraZeneca. OK GO™ offers a structured framework for making robust success and fail decisions early and fast, thereby improving the efficiency of your clinical development program. We were delighted with the responses received at the conference.

Click the button below to schedule a demo at a convenient time