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Pumps, Maps and Pea Soup: Spatio-temporal methods in environmental epidemiology

Thursday, January 3, 2013 - 16:00
Gavin Shaddick - Constance van Eeden invited speaker; Department of Statistics, University of Bath, UK
Room 2012, Earth Sciences Building (2207 Main Mall)

This talk provides an introduction to epidemiological analysis where the distribution of health outcomes and related exposures are measured over both space and time. Developments in this field have been driven by public interest in the effects of environmental pollution, increased availability of data and increases in computing power. These factors, together with recent advances in the field of spatio-temporal statistics, have led to the development of models which can consider relationships between adverse health outcomes and environmental exposures over both time and space simultaneously.
Using illustrative examples, from outbreaks of cholera in London in the 1850s, episodes of smog in the 1950s to present day epidemiological studies, we discuss a variety of issues commonly associated with analyses of this type including modelling auto-correlation, preferential sampling of exposures and ecological bias. The precise choice of statistical model may be based on whether we are explicitly interested in the spatio-temporal pattern of disease incidence, e.g. disease mapping and cluster detection, or whether clustering is a nuisance quantity that we need to acknowledge, e.g. spatio-temporal regression. Throughout we consider the practical implementation of models with specific focus on inference within a Bayesian framework using computational methods such as Markov Chain Monte Carlo and Integrated Nested Laplace Approximations. 
The talk also serves as a precursor to a graduate level course on spatio-temporal methods in epidemiology. This course will cover the basic concepts of epidemiology, methods for temporal and spatial analysis and the practical application of such methods using commonly available computer packages. It will have an applied focus with both lectures and practical computer sessions in which participants will be guided through analyses of epidemiological data.     
BACKGROUND INFORMATION:  The Statistics Department, with the support of the Constance van Eeden Fund,  is honoured to host Dr Gavin Shaddick during term 2 2012-13.   Dr Shaddick, a Reader in Statistics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Bath, has achieved international prominence for his contributions to the theory and application of  Bayesian statistics to the areas of spatial epidemiology, environmental health risk and the modelling of spatio-temporal fields of environmental hazards.

Dr Shaddick will begin his visit to the Department, by giving the 2012-13 van Eeden lecture.   That lecture will inaugurate a one term special topics graduate course in statistics, which the Department of Statistics is offering next term. It will be given by Dr Shaddick and Dr James Zidek  (Statistics, UBC)  on the subject of spatial epidemiology. This course, which is aimed primarily at a statistical audience, will provide an introduction to environmental epidemiology and spatio-temporal process modeling, as it applies to the assessment of risk to human health and welfare due to random fields of hazards such as air pollution.  Please see the course outline for more information.