Ingram Olkin Forums Update

To honor the work and actions of the late Ingram Olkin, an eminent statistician, mentor and contributor to social causes, NISS brings together experts and researchers together from a variety of fields and backgrounds into forums.  The focus of these forums is to bring forward a current societal issue that might benefit from attention from the statistical community and others. 

The Ingram Olkin Forum committee is currently directing their energies towards three separate topic areas where statisticians and researchers gather to share and discuss research around the following:

Unplanned Clinical Trial Disruptions

What are the implications of unplanned disruptions of clinical trials?  What strategies can be put into place to ensure the integrity of statistics using data that have already or will not be collected?  Are there changes to methods or plans that researchers can put into place moving forward?

During Day One of this multi-day forum, experts from various agencies within the National Institutes for Health presented the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on clinical trials in progress, about to start, and even those being planned.   Day Two brought together three more experts from the FDA, the CDC the European Medicines Agency to share their perspectives.  On Day Three, more than two dozen specialists with specific interest met online as a working group to investigate the first specific topic – estimands and missing data. Then  Day Four brought together a working group of experts to focus on randomization tests.  

This past week a small group based on attendees from Day Four are getting together to draft a report entitled, “The Role of Randomizations Tests in Responding to Unplanned Clinical Trial Disruptions.” Additonal working groups will be formed around other specific topics that will also direct their efforts towards understanding and articulating the role of other methods that will support those involved in clinical trials that have experienced disruptions over the past several months. 

Algorithmic Fairness and Social Justice

On September 25, 2020 an interesting and knowledgeable group of statisticians gathered to discuss the fairness of algorithmic as they are used in determining social policy, evaluation, and discoveries that involve or affect society.  Typically constructed by statistical and machine learning (ML) methods, artificial intelligence (AI) may harbor biases affecting individuals or subgroups of individuals in the society, resulting in questions of fairness and the implications for justice.  The remarks of the speakers at this forum helped us understand the importance of bringing better understanding of fairness within these contexts.  

Speakers at this forum included Kush Varshney (IBM), Kristian Lum (University of Pennsylvania) and Alex Chouldechova (Carnegie-Mellon University). The remarks of the speakers were followed by an active question and answer session that was moderated by Claire Kelling (Penn State University).  The panelists were kept busy responding to questions from the 90+ attendees of the session.  The back and forth between panelists captured the attention of everyone involved and made it clear that continued conversation on this and related topics is not only important, but necessary.  Keep your eyes open for additional Ingram Olkin Forum Series 
sessions that continue to explore this topic!

The Opioid Crisis

Finally, a topic that was initially planned for discussion earlier in the year but was postponed because of the pandemic will take place on May 4, 2021.  More information about this event will become available soon!

The latest information about any of the Ingram Olkin Forum series events can be found on the NISS website!  

Friday, November 13, 2020 by Glenn Johnson