Armitage lecture

This week has been a fantastic one. I went to Cambridge to give the 18th Armitage Lecture; I have to say, when I was invited back in the summer, my first reaction was of course that I was very, very pleased and honoured. Looking at the list of previous Lecturers was pretty daunting, though — which in a way only increased the honour, while also increasing slightly the pressure… 😉

The theme was around “Decision-based inference” so I thought I’d speak about my work on economic evaluation and, specifically, survival modelling and then the value of information. I had a relatively clear idea of what I wanted to say, but of course, for an occasion such as this, you need to up your game to the top level and so it really took me a couple of months to prepare my presentation. Especially, because I lost an awful lot of time to get the narrative (and the gifs…) right. And also I spent quite a big chunk of that time figuring out the intro — in the event, I hear that people have enjoyed my excursus into the many Italian successes over 2021 and fears for regression to the mean in 2022. I hear that a recording will be made available soon — and I’ll post the link as soon as I get it. In the meantime, the slides of my lecture are here.

Speaking of, the organisation at the MRC BSU has been amazing. All worked like a Swiss watch, but of course, that was even more impressive in the face of constant threats for the need to completely change the schedule, fears of having to go fully remote etc. The team have been fantastic, especially because while the main event is on one day, the actual visit consists of three (intense, but frankly exhilarating) days.

Day 1 (Tuesday), I attended two PhD seminars (which, ça va sans dire, were very nice) and then gave a talk for the BSU. I toyed with the idea of doing someting about our work on missing data but I decided to do something different and spoke about our work on Covid excess mortality — slides here. Once again, even for an annoying nerd like I pride myself of being in terms of how I like my slides, I did spend quite a bit of time to prepare the presentation (including changing template to have a different one than the main event). But the talk seem to have gone well, so I’m pleased.

Day 2 (Wednesday) was the main event. And although I was supposed to be some kind of big shot there, I think that the quality of the talks has been outstanding. There were four talks by various researchers within the BSU, to represent the different research themes — and I have to say I have enjoyed very much all four! Chris' was naturally closer to my own work, so it was easier to get interested in the talk. The other talks by Nina Deliu, Oscar Rueda and Mark van de Wiel were all a bit further away from my “normal” modelling/areas of direct interest, but all very good and engaging. And, in addition, although the live audience was limited to about 30 people and wearing masks for basically the whole time was a bit heavy, it felt really nice to experience the “conference vibe”. And it was a fantastic chance to catch up with colleagues with whom I haven’t talked (at least not in person) for a while — as well as to meet new very interesting people. And because I was the guest of honour, basically everybody was so nice to me that it was almost unreal…

Day 3 (Thursday) was for some more meetings with people, to discuss their research or simply catch up, which, once again, was really nice. Day 4 (today) wasn’t really part of the Armitage Workshop, but it was still marked by an Armitage-related event — in that Professor Peter Armitage himself (!) has written an email to say he’s enjoyed the event and my talk, which in itself would have been worth the whole thing!

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