Written statement concerning the FMS chair from Paul Dickman, MEB, Karolinska Institutet

Nästa vecka har vi årsmöte där vi kommer att välja en ny ordförande för FMS. Kandidaten Paul Dickman kan tyvärr inte närvara på mötet och därför skickar han en skriftlig presentation av sig själv.

It is an honor to be considered as a candidate for the chair of FMS. I will, unfortunately, not be able to attend the annual general meeting as I had previously agreed to hold a presentation in Oslo on the same day. I would like to take this opportunity to describe myself and my ambitions if elected chair. I’m happy to answer questions sent by e-mail (paul.dickman@ki.se). I’ll write this in my mother tongue, but I’m happy to receive questions in Swedish.

I am Professor of Biostatistics at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (MEB) at Karolinska Institutet, where I’ve been employed since March 1999. My primary research interests lie in developing and applying statistical methods for population-based cancer survival. I have general interests in epidemiology, particularly cancer epidemiology, and methods for register-based research. I studied in my native Australia, where my first job was in a health services research group (the primary client was the state health department) but I also dabbled in industrial process control and quality improvement. Details of my early career, including how I came to Sweden, can be found on my personal web page (http://pauldickman.com/bio_eng.php) and details of my current research can be found on my KI web page (http://ki.se/en/people/paudic). The majority of my work experience has been in academia and my professional network is strongest in Stockholm, which is something I’d like to change. I’ve done a small amount of consulting outside academia, and even presented at the European Medicines Agency (when it was EMEA) although my knowledge of statistics in the pharmaceutical industry is rather limited. One of the biggest attractions for me of being FMS chair is the possibility to learn more about the activities and issues faced by colleagues working in other areas and in other parts of the country.

If elected, I plan to continue the excellent work done by the current board in organising high-quality conferences each spring and fall, improving the flow of information to members (e.g., via the website), and strengthening the finances. I have long been a member of FMS and its parent organisation, partly because I believe professionals should support their professional society. I also think Statistikfrämjandet and FMS provide a service to their members that is good value for money. Many of my colleagues, however, are not members because they don’t perceive sufficient benefits. I think we should listen to their views and investigate if there are ways we can improve our services, both to recruit new members and to improve services to existing members. It would be premature for me to present specific plans without first discussing with the board, members, and potential members. I am, however, a strong believer in the benefits of discussing professional activities in an informal environment (whether it be common coffee breaks at work or social events connected to conferences or seminars such as ”statistikerträffen”). I found the young statisticians of Australia (http://www.statsoc.org.au/young-statisticans/) conferences to be extremely beneficial when I was young; I first attended as a final year undergraduate student and organised the conference several years later. I have been active in organising and teaching courses aimed at a cross-section of practicing statisticians and doctoral students, and believe such courses are important for both continuing education and networking. I know there are many individuals and organisations arranging highly appreciated activities for biostatisticians at all levels. FMS does not need to be actively involved in all of them – and the board certainly doesn’t have the time to do so – but I think FMS certainly has a role to play.

Although it’s not featured in the statutes, I feel FMS has an important role in raising the profile of biostatistical science and biostatistical scientists. One area that particularly interests me is promoting biostatistical science among upper secondary school students. I believe there are many high school students with an aptitude for mathematics and a passion for science who are unaware of the potential of a career in biostatistical science. I know some of our members are already active in teaching and promoting statistics in high schools, and I would like to investigate possibilities for extending such activities. I also see a need for strengthening masters and doctoral training in biostatistics. At the 2015 Spring meeting I announced that I had applied to start a masters program in biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet, but the process has unfortunately been delayed by administrative hurdles which prevent KI from starting any new masters programs. I am continuing my lobbying and hope we will be able to establish a masters of biostatistics at KI in the not too distant future.

My impression is that the profile of biostatistical science in Sweden has improved in the last 15 years. I feel there is an increased level of understanding and respect for biostatistics among biomedical scientists, although there remains more work to be done. FMS as an organisation has an important role to play in advancing our discipline and I look forward to the opportunity of working with our members.