ISCB ASC 2018: Report from the organisers

By members of the Local Organising and Program Committees

The end of August brought with it ISCB ASC 2018: the International Society for Clinical Biostatistics and Australian Statistical Conference. ISCB ASC 2018 was the culmination of four years of work, and we welcomed 616 delegates from around the world to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on the banks of the Yarra River.

With 6 pre-conference short courses, 4 keynote presentations, 11 invited sessions, 254 contributed talks and 109 posters, the best of Australian statistical research and biostatistical research from across the globe was on offer to attendees of ISCB ASC 2018. After being welcomed to country by Wurundjeri elder Uncle Ian Hunter, the Governor of Victoria, the Hon. Linda Dessau, formally opened the conference.

This conference was the first time that the International Society for Clinical Biostatistics (ISCB) and the Statistical Society of Australia (SSA) have been brought together, and in planning the conference we took care to respect the traditions of both of these two societies. Those delegates familiar with ISCB conferences would have been pleased to see the strong offering of pre-conference courses, the usual Tuesday afternoon excursions, the Early Career Researchers’ day, a fantastic ISCB President’s invited speaker in Louise Ryan, and a stimulating ISCB keynote speaker in Thomas Lumley. SSA delegates would have been pleased to see Invited Sessions from SSA Sections, Chris Holmes’ fascinating Moran lecture, Susan Murphy as the inspiring AMSI/SSA lecturer, and the EJG Pitman Prize for best student presentation, won by Roberto Bonelli, with honourable mentions going to Dilini Talagala, Nicholas Tierney and Sharm Thuraisingam. However, in many ways the true success of the conference lay in the way that both “sides” spoke to each other and learned from each other.

In addition to the usual elements of the scientific program, ISCB ASC 2018 included a Poster Pitch prize. Of the 109 poster presenters, 41 participated in the Poster Pitch competition, each presenting a three-minute talk about their poster. The top three student and top three non-student pitches as selected by conference delegates and a judging panel advanced to the finals, which took place in the main auditorium where there was live voting for the winner. Susanna Cramb from the Cancer Council Queensland took home the award for best non-student poster pitch, with Maarten Coemans from KU Leuven, Belgium, winning the student award.

While the outstanding scientific program showcased cutting-edge statistical research, the social components of the program provided plenty of opportunities to network with new and old friends. Highlights included the early career networking event held on the Sunday night, which provided an opportunity for those starting out in their statistical careers to mix and mingle, and the welcome drinks on the Monday evening. Then there was the conference dinner which not only allowed for chat over a delicious dinner, but also time for unwinding on the dance floor. Seeing statistical luminaries getting in the groove was a particular highlight!

We’d like to thank all of those who attended, and in particular those who contributed to the program, for making ISCB ASC 2018 everything we hoped it would be. The Local Organising and Program Committees would also like to take this opportunity to say an enormous thank you to our chair, Katherine Lee, for all of her efforts in making this conference a huge success. We wish the organisers of the ANZSC 2020 (6-10 July 2020, Gold Coast) and ISCB40 (14-18 July 2019, Leuven) all the best for their conferences!

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