Department of Biostatistics
Statistical Methods in Epidemiology Working Group

2015 - 2016

Organizer: Dr. Bernard Rosner

Schedule: Fridays, 2:00-3:30 p.m.; will meet once every 3-4 weeks
SPH2, Room 426 (unless otherwise notified)

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Seminar Description
This year, this seminar will be devoted to work on statistical methods used in epidemiologic work. In addition to statistical methods of general epidemiologic use, a number of sessions will be devoted to topics in genetic epidemiology, family studies and clustered data issues. In addition to speakers from Harvard, a limited number of distinguished speakers from outside of Harvard will be invited to participate. Presentations of work by interested faculty and students will be solicited.

October 23 (2:30 - 4:00 pm)

Weihua An, S.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology and Statistics, Indiana University - Bloomington

"Health Surveillance through Social Networks"
ABSTRACT: We propose a network method to monitor health behaviors and point out the general conditions for it to work effectively. The method helps to identify effective informants for monitoring future health behaviors and to triangulate self-reports of sensitive health behaviors. We demonstrate the method by studying the smoking behaviors of over 4000 middle school students in China. Using students' observations of their schoolmates smoking in the past 30 days, we construct smoking detection networks and examine the patterns of smoking detection through exponential random graph models. We find that smokers, optimistic students, and popular students make better informants than their counterparts. We also find that using three to four (or the 3rd quartile of) positive peer reports can uncover a good number of under-reported smokers while not producing excessive false positives. In short, the method we proposed may be used to improve future survey designs and data quality with a low cost.

November 20

Daniel Nevo, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Departments of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

"Construction of fetal reference charts: Why and how?"
ABSTRACT: Reference charts for fetal measures are used for early detection of pregnancies that should be monitored closely. Construction of reference charts corresponds to estimation of quantiles of a distribution as a function of gestational age. Existing methods have been developed under various modeling assumptions, typically by fitting a polynomial regression to certain functionals of the distributions. We relax the assumptions of a parametric polynomial link between the distribution parameters and age and consider cubic splines and discretization of age in order to compare charts based on more flexible and simpler models, respectively. We compare the different methods using various tools and demonstrate the importance of considering performance measures calculated from age-stratified data. We compare our charts to similar charts that have been recently published and emphasize that the source of an apparent heterogeneity should be discussed.

December 11 (12-1:30 pm)

Octavious Talbot
Doctoral Student, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard University

"Determining the Risk of Mortality in South Sudan: Sickle Cell"
ABSTRACT: None Given

January 8

Mingyang Song, SD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

"The Missing Covariate Indicator Method is Nearly Valid Almost Always"
ABSTRACT: None Given

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