Skip to content
Archive of posts filed under the Public Health category.

Postdoc opportunity at AstraZeneca in Cambridge, England, in Bayesian Machine Learning using Stan!

Here it is: Predicting drug toxicity with Bayesian machine learning models We’re currently looking for talented scientists to join our innovative academic-style Postdoc. From our centre in Cambridge, UK you’ll be in a global pharmaceutical environment, contributing to live projects right from the start. You’ll take part in a comprehensive training programme, including a focus […]

An Upbeat Mood May Boost Your Paper’s Publicity

Gur Huberman points to this news article, An Upbeat Mood May Boost Your Flu Shot’s Effectiveness, which states: A new study suggests that older people who are in a good mood when they get the shot have a better immune response. British researchers followed 138 people ages 65 to 85 who got the 2014-15 vaccine. […]

Generable: They’re building software for pharma, with Stan inside.

Daniel Lee writes: We’ve just launched our new website. Generable is where precision medicine meets statistical machine learning. We are building a state-of-the-art platform to make individual, patient-level predictions for safety and efficacy of treatments. We’re able to do this by building Bayesian models with Stan. We currently have pilots with AstraZeneca, Sanofi, and University […]

Tools for detecting junk science? Transparency is the key.

In an article to appear in the journal Child Development, “Distinguishing polemic from commentary in science,” physicist David Grimes and psychologist Dorothy Bishop write: Exposure to nonionizing radiation used in wireless communication remains a contentious topic in the public mind—while the overwhelming scientific evidence to date suggests that microwave and radio frequencies used in modern […]

The Millennium Villages Project: a retrospective, observational, endline evaluation

Shira Mitchell et al. write (preprint version here if that link doesn’t work): The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) was a 10 year, multisector, rural development project, initiated in 2005, operating across ten sites in ten sub-Saharan African countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). . . . In this endline evaluation of the MVP, […]

This one’s important: How to better analyze cancer drug trials using multilevel models.

Paul Alper points us to this news article, “Cancer Conundrum—Too Many Drug Trials, Too Few Patients,” by Gina Kolata, who writes: With the arrival of two revolutionary treatment strategies, immunotherapy and personalized medicine, cancer researchers have found new hope — and a problem that is perhaps unprecedented in medical research. There are too many experimental […]

Debate over claims of importance of spending on Obamacare advertising

Jerrod Anderson points to this post by Paul Shafer, Erika Fowler, Laura Baum, and Sarah Gollust, “Advertising cutbacks reduce Marketplace information-seeking behavior: Lessons from Kentucky for 2018.” Anderson expresses skepticism about this claim. I’ll first summarize the claims of Shafer et al. and then get to Anderson’s criticism. Shafer et al. write: The Trump administration […]

Are self-driving cars 33 times more deadly than regular cars?

Paul Kedrosky writes: I’ve been mulling the noise over Uber’s pedestrian death. While there are fewer pedestrian deaths so far from autonomous cars than non-autonomous (one in a few thousand hours, versus 1 every 1.5 hours), there is also, of course, a big difference in rates per passenger-mile. The rate for autonomous cars is now […]

Some of the data from the NRA conventions and firearm injuries study

Dave Kane writes: You wrote about the NRA conventions and firearm injuries study here. The lead author, Anupam Jena, kindly provided some of the underlying data and a snippet of the code they used to me. You can see it all here. The data are here. I [Kane] wrote up a brief analysis, R Markdown […]

The moral hazard of quantitative social science: Causal identification, statistical inference, and policy

A couple people pointed me to this article, “The Moral Hazard of Lifesaving Innovations: Naloxone Access, Opioid Abuse, and Crime,” by Jennifer Doleac and Anita Mukherjee, which begins: The United States is experiencing an epidemic of opioid abuse. In response, many states have increased access to Naloxone, a drug that can save lives when administered […]

The purpose of a pilot study is to demonstrate the feasibility of an experiment, not to estimate the treatment effect

David Allison sent this along: – Press release from original paper: “The dramatic decrease in BMI, although unexpected in this short time frame, demonstrated that the [Shaping Healthy Choices Program] SHCP was effective . . .” – Comment on paper and call for correction or retraction: “. . . these facts show that the analyses […]

The New England Journal of Medicine wants you to “identify a novel clinical finding”

Mark Tuttle writes: This is worth a mention in the blog. At least they are trying to (implicitly) reinforce re-analysis and re-use of data. Apparently, some of the re-use efforts will be published, soon. My reply: I don’t know enough about medical research to make any useful comments here. But there’s one bit that raises […]

No, I don’t believe that “Reduction in Firearm Injuries during NRA Annual Conventions” story

David Palmer writes: If you need yet another study to look at, check this out: “Reduction in Firearm Injuries during NRA Annual Conventions.”

Bayes for estimating a small effect in the context of large variation

Shira Mitchell and Mariel Finucane, two statisticians at Mathematica Policy Research (that’s the policy-analysis organization, not the Wolfram software company) write: We here at Mathematica have questions about priors for a health policy evaluation. Here’s the setting: In our dataset, healthcare (per person per month) expenditures are highly variable (sd = $2500), but from prior […]

Big Oregano strikes again

Paul Alper writes: You recall the University of Maryland chocolate milk cure for concussion [Bigmilk Strikes Again]. A new version of the same sloppiness is discussed here. Alper is linking to a news article, “University of Iowa ignores questions about its oregano ‘cure’ for cancer-wasting syndrome,” by Eric Holland, who writes: At the beginning of […]

“Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” and “The Narcissism Epidemic”: How can we think about the evidence?

Jay Livingston points to this hypey article, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?”, by Jean Twenge, who writes: I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years . . . Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. . . . [But] Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen […]

The graphs tell the story. Now I want to fit this story into a bigger framework so it all makes sense again.

Paul Alper points us to these graphs: Pretty stunning. I mean, really stunning. Why are we just hearing about this now, given that the pattern is a decade old? And what’s this: “Data for the U.S. ends in 2007”? Huh? Also, it’s surprising how high the rates were for Japan, Italy, and Germany in the […]

How to think about the risks from low doses of radon

Nick Stockton, a reporter for Wired magazine, sent me some questions about radiation risk and radon, and Phil and I replied. I thought our responses might be of general interest so I’m posting them here. First I wrote: Low dose risk is inherently difficult to estimate using epidemiological studies. I’ve seen no evidence that risk […]

One data pattern, many interpretations

David Pittelli points us to this paper: “When Is Higher Neuroticism Protective Against Death? Findings From UK Biobank,” and writes: They come to a rather absurd conclusion, in my opinion, which is that neuroticism is protective if, and only if, you say you are in bad health, overlooking the probability that neuroticism instead makes you […]

What’s Wrong with “Evidence-Based Medicine” and How Can We Do Better? (My talk at the University of Michigan Friday 2pm)

Tomorrow (Fri 9 Feb) 2pm at the NCRC Research Auditorium (Building 10) at the University of Michigan: What’s Wrong with “Evidence-Based Medicine” and How Can We Do Better? Andrew Gelman, Department of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University “Evidence-based medicine” sounds like a good idea, but it can run into problems when the […]