Xuan Bi from the University of Minnesota is the IMS Program Chair for next year’s ENAR meeting. He writes:

Each year, the International Biometric Society (IBS), together with IMS and Sections of ASA, holds the ENAR (the Eastern North American Region) meeting in Spring. The ENAR 2023 Spring Meeting will be held at the JW Marriott Nashville from March 19–22. The meeting brings together researchers, practitioners from academia, industry, and government to advance biological and life science through the development of quantitative theories and the application, development, and dissemination of effective mathematical and statistical techniques. For the purpose of supporting the meeting as well as the development of the biostatistics field, IMS will provide travel awards for graduate students and new researchers in order to promote their research and practice activities [how to apply].

IMS will have a strong program at ENAR 2023. The IMS Program Chair, Xuan Bi from the University of Minnesota, has organized an IMS Medallion Lecture (see below), to be presented by Professor Hongyu Zhao from Yale School of Public Health, to discuss the statistical issues in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). There will be complementary sessions on machine learning methods in biomedical data science, causal inference, brain connectivity and brain imaging genomics, statistical genetics and genomics, novel clinical trial design, as well as emerging topics including distributed health data analysis, data privacy, fairness, individualization, and mobilization. A few interesting talks are highlighted below.

We are delighted that next year’s ENAR will again host an IMS Medallion Lecture—the first at ENAR for several years. Professor Zhao will first introduce GWAS and statistical models that are commonly used to characterize how genetic factors contribute to complex traits. He will then discuss the robustness of these models and their extensions that can help identify tissues and cell types relevant for a specific trait by integrating diverse -omics data. As 2023 will be the 75th anniversary of IBS and ENAR, Professor Zhao will reflect on the history of the organization, and the history of the field of biostatistics.

Another highlight is the development and advancement of statistical and biostatistical techniques in nascent, yet burgeoning, applications. For example, rich longitudinal data tracking people’s physical activities and health status enable us to deliver non-invasive interventions in real time. However, understanding and analysis of such mobile health data is still quite limited. Professor Annie Qu from the University of California, Irvine, proposes a latent dynamic model (LDM) for multi-resolution data integration in mobile health. This method utilizes non-parametric latent dynamic factors to capture the underlying trend in longitudinal data with mixed resolution and irregular time intervals. Importantly, the non-parametric latent factors is capable of recovering the large portion of missing data that occurs frequently in mobile health studies. Professor Qu’s work is motivated by Garmin watch and Oura ring data, monitoring stress in caregivers for dementia patients.

Meanwhile, knockoff-based methods are becoming increasingly popular due to their enhanced power for locus discovery and their ability to prioritize putative causal variants in a genome-wide analysis. However, because of the substantial computational cost for generating knock-offs, existing knock-off approaches cannot analyze biobank-scale datasets. Professor Iuliana Ionita-Laza from the Department of Biostatistics at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health will discuss a scalable knockoff-based method for population-based designs, and related extensions to family-based designs.