NISS Affiliates Workshop on Overarching Issues in Risk Analysis

Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 2:00pm to Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 10:59am

Workshop Purpose

The primary goal of the workshop is a "stock-taking" that the proliferation of exciting new research on risk analysis over the past several years makes as feasible as it is necessary. We seek answers to such questions as:

What are the high-leverage gaps?

What issues span multiple problem contexts?

What kinds of collaborations among researchers in the statistical, applied mathematical and decision sciences and domain scientists are needed to carry out the research?

An example of a high-leverage issue is validation of complex risk analysis models, which merges issues of computer experiments, Bayesian analysis, data quality and uncertainty quantification.


Over the past several years, there has been a wealth of scientific progress on risk analysis. But, the same forces of diversity that have stimulated the progress have to a significant degree engendered fragmentation. To illustrate, diversification of the set of underlying problems, driven by areas ranging from national defense and homeland security to genetically modified organisms to critical infrastructure, has led to effective but narrowly focused research. The diversity of problem contexts has a significant public policy component, which is driven in part by the increasing stakes and the multiplicity of stakeholders. In particular, policy concerns direct attention not only to the dramatic risks for huge numbers of people associated, for example, with bioterrorism, but also to "small-scale" risks such as drug interactions driven by genetics.

At the same time, it is clear that overarching needs exist, and equally clear that the diversity of research on risk analysis has inhibited the communication and collaboration needed to address them. For example, early detection of extremely rare events is needed in contexts ranging from bioterrorism to such "traditional" areas as automobile safety, the latter exemplified by the Ford Explorer-Firestone tire problem.

Another, and especially challenging, issue is the increasing divergence between risk perception and risk reality. Statistically, it may be demonstrably more dangerous to drive to the airport than to fly on an airplane, but few people behave as if this is so. Tools to communicate and even visualize risk represent a research as well as a policy need. Without them, the impact of other research is diminished dramatically.


Thursday, October 27, 2005
2:00 - 5:00 PM

Public Forum: The Broad Context of Risk Analysis

Risk Perception: Paul Slovic (University of Oregon)
Risk as Analysis and Risk as Feelings: Some Thoughts about Affect, Reason, Risk, and Rationality

Legal Context: Christopher Schroeder (Duke University)
From an "Essentially Useless Exercise" to Ground Zero in the Sound Science Wars: The Changing Law of Risk Analysis

Political Context: Elizabeth Yetley (NIH)
Science and Policy in Risk Analysis: An Necessary but Incompatible Mix?

5:30 PM Reception

Friday, October 28, 2005
8:45 AM Welcome and Introductions
9:00 AM

Presentation, Response, Discussion: Clinical and Pharmaceutical Risks

Susan Ellenberg (University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine)
Some Perspectives On Evaluating The Risks Of Medical Products

Robert Obenchain (Eli Lilly)
Overarching Issues in Pharmaceutical Risk

Stan Young (NISS), Susan Ellenberg, and Robert Obenchain
Risk in the Pharmaceutical Industry

10:30 AM Break
11:00 AM

Presentation, Response, Discussion: Food Safety

Nathan Mosier (Purdue) and Bruce Craig (Purdue)
Predicting Cell Capture from Dilute Samples for Microfluidic Biosensors

Bruce Craig (Purdue)
Early Detection of Foodborne Pathogens

Alicia Carriquiry (Iowa State)
Assessing the Risk of Illness from Food-borne Pathogens

12:30 PM Lunch
1:30 PM

Presentation, Response, Discussion: Natural Disasters

Ed Laatsch (FEMA)

David Banks (Duke)
Improvisation on a Theme from FEMA

3:00 PM Break
3:30 PM

Presentation, Response, Discussion: Critical Infrastructure

James McCalley (Iowa State University)
Energy System Risk Assessment

Alan Karr (NISS)
Infrastructure Risk

5:00 PM Adjourn for the day
7:00 PM Workshop Dinner

Saturday, October 29, 2005
9:00 AM Open Discussion: What are Overarching Issues?
10:30 AM Break
11:00 AM Planning Session for SAMSI 2007-08 Program on Risk Analysis and Modeling
12:00 N Lunch
1:30 PM Workshop Adjourns


Event Type


Iowa State University, Ames, IA
United States