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41st Fisher Memorial Lecture by Prof William Rosenberger

March 1 @ 9:30 am - 1:30 pm


The MRC Biostatistics Unit is delighted to be hosting the 41st Fisher Memorial Lecture in conjunction with the Fisher Memorial Trust (FMT). The FMT was set up to promote interest in the life and work of the great statistician, evolutionary biologist and geneticist, Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher (1890-1962) and to maintain his scientific legacy by encouraging discussion of the scientific fields in which he was active. Each year, an eminent statistician is invited to deliver a lecture in his honour.

The 41st Lecture will be delivered by Professor William Rosenberger from George Mason University, USA. Professor Rosenberger is a Distinguished University Professor at George Mason University and has spent much of his career developing statistical methodology for randomized clinical trials. An author of over 100 refereed papers, Professor Rosenberger was named the 2012 Outstanding Research Faculty by the Volgenau School of Engineering, George Mason University, where he also served as Chairman of their Department of Statistics for 13 years, hiring 16 faculty and developing programs at the BS, MS and PhD levels. In 2014, he received a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to support his sabbatical at RWTH Aachen University in Germany. That same year he was promoted to the rank of University Professor (Distinguished University Professor, 2023), which is reserved for “eminent” individuals on the faculty “of great national or international reputation.”

Title: “From Fisher to CARA: The Evolution of Randomization and Randomization-Based Inference”

Abstract: R. A. Fisher was a devoted Darwinian, and, like Darwin, created science out of nothing.  The list is long, but one thinks of likelihood-based estimation, analysis of variance, principles of experimental design, and randomization as standing the tests of time.  Such accomplishments “from scratch” (or nearly so) can amaze the fine statisticians who made meaningful incremental contributions to work begun by others, the few “greats” among us who invented something important, and the unusually perceptive introductory statistics student, alike.  Fisher thought of randomization in the context of agricultural experiments, but it has impacted most profoundly the science of medicine.  Bradford Hill brought randomization to clinical trials.  The concept of randomization-based inference, now resurrected in causal inference, was largely forgotten as design and analysis became segregated, perhaps due to analysis software packages.

This talk will attempt to give the historical context of randomization and randomization-based inference from Fisher to the present day, including newer concepts such as response-adaptive, covariate-adaptive, and covariate-adjusted response-adaptive (CARA) randomization.  It will be challenging to condense a year of material into one hour, but a devoted Fisherian should be able to be efficient and sufficient.

Early Career Talks: During the morning preceding the lecture, there will be a session on Response-Adaptive Randomisation, with talks from Early Career Researchers, commencing at 9.30am and finishing by 11.30am. These talks are linked with the Response-Adaptive Randomisation in Clinical Trials Workshop, taking place on Thursday 29th February. All are warmly welcome to attend these talks ahead of the Fisher Memorial Lecture starting at 12noon.


March 1
9:30 am - 1:30 pm
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MRC Biostatistics Unit


CRUK Cambridge Institute
Li Ka Shing Centre, Robinson Way
Cambridge, CB2 0RE United Kingdom
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