It’s all adding up for BCA with Statistical Leadership Award

The Biostatistics Collaboration of Australia (BCA) have won the Statistical Society of Australia’s 2019 President’s Award for Leadership in Statistics. Monash University was a foundational member of the BCA and Professor Andrew Forbes (pictured right), Head of the School’s Biostatistics Unit, is a member of BCA’s Executive and steering committees, and chaired its curriculum committee for over 10 years.

The award recognises the BCA’s outstanding and sustained work since 2001, ensuring Australia has access to vital high-level biostatistical skills and knowledge, which are applied to research in genetics, clinical trials and public health.

The BCA is a consortium of biostatistical experts from across Australia with representatives from universities, government and clinical practice who have combined to offer a national program of postgraduate courses via an alliance of six universities, being The University of Adelaide, Macquarie University, Monash University, The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne.

Our own Master of Biostatistics is taught as part of this program, providing students with access to some of the foremost biostatistics experts across the country.

BCA graduates are highly prized for jobs in health and medical research, an area that has a growing need for statistical skills because of the increasing size and complexity of data. Biostatistics is one of the backbones of population health, and is a core skill in the 'big data' revolution. Studies and clinical trials with vast and complex data need the expertise of biostatisticians to ensure that the most useful data is being correctly collected, analysed and then interpreted to ensure findings are as accurate as possible and that their uncertainty is presented appropriately. It has underpinned the success of some of the world’s largest and most successful public health studies and clinical trials.

The President of the Statistical Society of Australia, Professor Adrian Barnett, said, “The BCA has been of enormous national value for the field of statistics. It has brought together some of our most experienced statisticians to pass on their skills to students. I know that other fields have aimed to copy the BCA’s collaborative model, which is the ultimate form of flattery.”

The consortium was established because of the national shortage of statisticians with expertise in the health industry and medical research, and has served to raise the standard of scientific rigour in health and medical research, with 552 graduated students nationally since 2001.

“The BCA has filled an important gap in our national skill set, and at the 2018 National Statistical Society conference there was a strong consensus that Australia needs more investment in biostatistics to meet the growing demand.” Professor Barnett said.

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