In todays episode, we take a look into the future – the future of PSI and how it will impact you. Both candidates, that run for becoming chair of PSI – Lucy Rowell and Naomi Givens – speak about their vision in our interview today.

Of course, this episode will help you to decide who to vote for, but it will also help you to understand how to benefit from PSI by becoming an active member. Both candidates share their stories of how they got more and more involved within PSI and how they were able to impact the world of statistics through PSI.

In more detail, we’ll cover the following topics in the episode:

In todays episode, we take a look into the future – the future of PSI and how it will impact you. Both candidates, that run for becoming chair of PSI – Lucy Rowell and Naomi Givens – speak about their vision in our interview today.

Of course, this episode will help you to decide who to vote for, but it will also help you to understand how to benefit from PSI by becoming an active member. Both candidates share their stories of how they got more and more involved within PSI and how they were able to impact the world of statistics through PSI.

In more detail, we’ll cover the following topics in the episode:

About Lucy Rowell

Senior Principal Statistical Scientist (Roche) and PSI Conference Chair
I have been engaged in the PSI Scientific Committee for 6 years; most recently as Conference Chair and Director on the Board. I am driven by advancing the role of statisticians and I am excited by the chance to lead PSI as Chair, building on the successes I have delivered on; leading us to our largest UK conference and record breaking contributed and poster abstract submissions for this year’s upcoming conference.
During my career, I have worked across both early and late stage development and many therapeutic areas. I have performed varying roles and for the last 3 years I was a Global Development Team Leader, responsible for leading the design, execution and delivery of clinical development plans (CDPs), through approval and reimbursement, for a number of molecules across multiple indications. This team included clinical, safety, regulatory, biometrics, operations and pharmacology. This experience has been one of the most rewarding to date and showed to me the diverse strengths Biostatisticians can bring to leading teams and drug development strategies outside of Biometrics.
I am currently on a fifty-percent rotation in our UK Affiliate, providing input to our Global teams, to maximise our chances for access to drugs for our UK patients.
Outside work I love eating, reading, meditating, going to see live bands and hiking with my husband
Simon, and our pug Buddy.

For her vision click here!

About Noami Givens:

Naomi joined the PSI external affairs committee in 2011 and is proud to have led the creation of the Before the Headlines initiative with the Science Media Centre, a service which provides science journalists in the mainstream media with a statistical critique of a piece of research as an aid for writing their articles accurately. She joined the PSI Board of Directors in 2014 as the Contracts and Partnerships Director, recently negotiating a new 3-year contact with MCI holding cost rises in line with inflation. Naomi was a member of the Joint Assessment Committee for the proposed merger with the RSS during which time she also chaired weekly meetings between the Yes and No campaign teams putting her skills of diplomacy to the test. Naomi represents PSI on the Council for Biopharmaceutical Statisticians engaging with similar pharmaceutical statistics organisations around the world. As chair, Naomi aims to ‘future proof’ PSI through improved engagement with members and welcoming data scientists into the PSI fold.

Naomi has worked as a clinical statistician in the HIV therapeutic area at GlaxoSmithKline for over 17 years. Having joined as a recent graduate providing support to the clinical virology department, she has progressed through roles, across phases II to IV with increasing responsibility and currently manages a team of statisticians supporting Pfizer and GSK’s joint venture ViiV Healthcare.

For her Vision click here!

  • Experience of the candidates with PSI
  • Achievement at PSI and their current role on the board of directors for PSI
  • Why do they want to become chair of PSI
  • Changes to PSI, that the candidates would like to initiate
  • The candidates visions for the future for PSI and how to get there


Your choice – interview with the two candidates for the PSI chair Lucy Rowell and Naomi Givens about the future of PSI and how it will impact you

Welcome to the Effective Statistician with Alexander Schacht and Benjamin Piske, the weekly podcast for statisticians in the health sector designed to improve your leadership skills, widen your business acumen and enhance your efficiency. In today’s episode number 8, we’ll talk about the vision of the candidates running for the PSCI chair, interview with Lucy Rowell and Naomi Givens.


This podcast is sponsored by PSI, a global member organization dedicated to leading and promoting best practice and industry initiatives for statisticians. Learn more about upcoming events at


Welcome to another episode of the Effective Statistician. Today we have a very, very special episode because we have two candidates that both run for the chair of PSI. Together, I’m as always or nearly always with my cohost, Benjamin. Hi, Benjamin. Hi, Alexander. And we have Nomi and Lucy on the line as well. Hello together. Hi. Hi.


Okay, Lucy and Naomi are actually sitting in the same room in the UK, and Benjamin and myself, we are sitting in separate rooms, like usually. And the goal of the recording today is really to introduce Naomi and Lucy, what their vision is about, PSI, what they want to achieve. And I think it’s really, really a special situation.


for an association to actually have two candidates for this job because lots of associations struggle to find anybody that wants to do these kind of things. So it speaks for PSI that a PSI has two candidates and actually all the members have a choice and don’t just say yes. So without further ado, let’s get into the interview. So…


Maybe as a first thing, could you both introduce yourself a little bit, what you’re currently doing at the moment, maybe a little bit about the outside of work life. Naomi, you want to go first? Yeah, hi, I’m Naomi Givens. I’m a clinical statistician currently working at GSK. I’ve been there 17 years. I did have a brief job at a smaller company for about 18 months after graduating.


But other than that, I’ve had my career at GSK, all in the HIV therapy area, covering kind of phases three and four mostly. And currently I manage a team of statisticians. We provide support for Veev Healthcare, which is a joint venture by GSK, Pfizer and Shinogi. I joined PSI very soon after I started working as a statistician in 99, when I got my first job.


I became a member of the external affairs committee in 2011 and then have been on the board since I was co-opted in 2014. In terms of personal life, I have a couple of kids. I live in London, but a boy who’s 11, a daughter who’s seven. And I have always enjoyed running, but the moment I’m actually training for a marathon, which as we record this, I’m about to do in five days. So my first marathon, probably my last.


By the time this podcast goes out, hopefully I will be telling people I’ve completed my first marathon. Great. That’s really nice. I’ve also run one marathon, but that’s quite a long time ago. Now I would probably struggle with a half marathon. So Lucy, do you want to go next? You have been on the show before, but maybe for those listeners that haven’t listened to the…


to the show before where you have spoken about your role as a chair of PSI of the conference. Please introduce yourself again. Sure. And I’ve tried to make it a little bit shorter than last time. I think I spoke a little bit too much. So hi, everyone. My name is Lucy Rowell and I’m a senior principal statistical scientist at Roche. And actually similar to Naomi, I’ve been at Roche for over a year.


Roche pretty much my whole career for just over 15 years now. And I’ve done a number of different statistical sort of leadership roles while being at Roche across a number of different therapeutic areas and from phase one through to phase four. Most recently, I’ve actually been doing some global drug development leadership roles that include being outside of biometrics, which I’ve really thoroughly enjoyed.


and I’m currently doing a one year rotation for half of my time into the UK affiliates. And as part of that, I’m actually doing no biostatistics whatsoever. I’m doing a sort of hybrid commercial and medical lead role in our very early pipeline team. Looking to try and, I guess, help craft and ensure that the development programs that the teams put together meet the UK market.


and that we’ll have data that we can hopefully have successful negotiations with the payers for and be able to get access to our patients here in the UK. And outside of work, I’m married with a dog, a little pug called Buddy, who’s six and a half. Naomi’s had the pleasure of meeting him today. I used to do a lot of running. I actually did the Manchester Marathon that Naomi’s doing a while back.


But got myself injured. So now I tend to just mainly walk, do lots of hiking, a little bit easier on the knees. And if I have the opportunity to eat and drink while I’m walking, maybe a nice pub on the way, then that is perfect. And I’m missing Buck Club tonight to do this podcast. Okay, okay. Do you want to


tell a little bit of what was your first experience with PSI. So what were your kind of first touch points with PSI? How did that come about? Sure. So for me, I joined pretty much as soon as I started the industry, so just over 15 years ago, and had actually just very minor touches really with the organization as a whole.


I did the IT IT course which I think a lot of us have all done and really really enjoyed. And then sort of as I sort of got to know a little bit more about it in terms of the PSI, I decided to join the scientific committee which was about six to seven years ago now that I joined that committee and enjoyed it so much I’m still there.


That’s then, I guess, how I got into being the conference chair and getting onto the board of directors and now hopefully looking to be the chair of PSI. Okay, Naomi, what have been your first touch points with PSI and how did PSI feel at that time? So very similar to as Lucy said, so yes, pretty much as soon as I joined the industry, I joined PSI.


I went on the IT IT course and as you said, I worked at a much smaller company for the first 18 months of my career. I think there’s probably only five clinical statisticians, all much more experienced. So for me, the IT IT course was really excellent. I met people who are in the same stage of their career as me and I still know some of them now. I also have been to several of the conferences. I don’t know quite how I’ve managed to


to get to so many, because it’s not always easy, but I have managed to. And so yeah, I’ve enjoyed many of them. Obviously, the content is always excellent. But really, I have to say, I do just enjoy them as networking and fun events and the entertainment and things. And I say, so that was similar to Lucy for a long time. That was kind of it. I did the ITT course, went to conferences. And then I joined the External Affairs Committee in 2011. There I set up.


setting up the for the headlines initiative with the Science Media Center. And then 2014, I was co-opted from the board as the partnerships and contracts director. I’m still in that role now. So in terms of your experience with PSI, do you have a special highlight that you associate with any PSI activities?


Yeah, so for me, I would say my best experience was setting up this before the headlines initiative. I think it’s something I’m very proud of. So the Science Media Center, it’s an independent, not-for-profit press office, and they work with the mainstream media to ensure the public have access to real accurate scientific evidence. So they work very closely with journalists. So


chair, had a chat with Fiona Fox’s chief executive of the Science Media Center, and they came up with this idea where they just wanted more input from statisticians. And so I then helped to lead that work. So what happens is the Science Media Center, they already have a kind of a database of experts, scientific experts in many fields, and they go to them, this is what they’ve done for years, go to them for quotes.


about pieces of research that journalists can use and put in their articles. But what they wanted and they had people like David Spiegelhalter they could go to for kind of quotes on, you know, a particular statistical piece of work. But what they really wanted was something to accompany that that that was sent out to journalists to help them understand the research, help understand the strengths and limitations. It needs to be something that’s very clear, very short, very concise. So we work to generate a template to get a group of volunteers.


Although we did this as PSI, we ran it in partnership with the RSS, the group of people involved are not just in industry, they’re in academia, they’re across the board. And what happens is we now have about 50 volunteers. The Science Media Centre, when they get a paper sent to them under embargo before it’s published, they make a decision on whether they think that’s a piece of paper that one would be the mainstream media would be interested in and could be controversial, could be misrepresented.


and they’ll send that out to the distribution list of statisticians. Those statisticians, someone will volunteer to have a look at it. And it’s under embargo, it’s usually you need to respond in 24 hours. So I think we all know, out of 50 people, there’s often one or two people who at that day have the time to put something in. But really, and it’s really quite simple. I think people worry or maybe it’s a bit of a difficult thing to do. But if you think about it, a lot of these things are they’re simply


pointing out the difference in causation and correlation. They’re noting the limitations of confounding that might not have been taken to effect. And so as I said, these get sent out to journalists, they have them alongside the paper and their expert opinion while they write their articles. It doesn’t have anyone’s name on it, it’s not for quoting. All these are available, all these reviews are available on the Science Media website along with a list of all the volunteers.


And really, I guess I’m really proud of it because we’ve had such brilliant feedback right from the start. This is what happened, starting in 2011, it’s still going strong now. I’ve recently written an article in Spin about it. But we have heard stories, you know, this is all the mainstream news media. It’s all the main newspapers, Channel 4 News, Guardian, BBC News. And we have feedback about them either dropping stories, moving down the priority list. And it’s not that we don’t want to get the stories out there. We just want to make sure they’re framed in the right way.


And if we get a piece of work and it’s really amazing, really strong evidence, we would be shouting that as much as we would be mentioning the limitations. So it’s quite a long answer, but I think it’s something I’m very passionate about. I’m very proud of something that I really was deeply involved in. But so in terms of you mentioned BBC Guardian, it’s predominantly UK or is it also non-UK media?


I think it is probably predominantly UK, but I think these days, you know, with the internet, so where my article has been, I know there’s something there about the, something that was quoted and used on the CNN website. So obviously that’s, it’s wider. So I think it is mainly UK media. Okay. And Lucy, in terms of your best experience and with PSI.


Yeah, so mine’s going to be a little shorter. Sorry. No, no, no. I guess I struggled a little bit with this question because I think there’s been so many really great experiences. But I think the one thing that when I linked all of that together to me was around people. So I think for me, the best experiences are really around the networks and the friendships that I’ve built through actively being part of PSI.


It’s been such a really great experience to me. And I only really got that through being more engaged, I think, with PSI versus when I first joined and I was a little bit more on the outskirts of that. And really then that is what’s driven me to want to take on the chair role. And that’s really where all of my vision has been built around the idea of community and networks.


So that’s my short answer. Excellent answer indeed. You both are on the board of directors for PSI at the moment. And maybe you can just give a little bit more insight into your current role and what you have achieved with in this role. I mean, Lucy, we know that from the previous episodes that we will see in June.


what you have achieved with your role. So maybe you can go first and just quickly reiterate what we discussed before for the Amsterdam session of PSI. So maybe you can go first then and then Naomi. Yeah, so I am currently the PSI conference chair. This will be my second year in that role and my final year before I


go back to being vice chair and supporting Kate Taylor from Amgen, who will be taking that over from me. And I mean, I’m just really proud of everything that we’ve done, not just myself, but the scientific committee, who are just a massive support for getting this going and getting it running. And I mean, I was really lucky that I inherited a really strong conference that was growing from Emma Jones, who did a really fabulous job at that.


And so I think I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to build on the great foundation that was already there. And we’ve already seen that last year we had our largest UK conference to date, which is something I was really proud of at the time. And I thought there’s no way that we’re going to beat that this year. So that’s something to be proud of. And I can live with that. That’s fine. But really now 2018 is just surpassing sort of all of my expectations.


We’ve already seen that we’ve had record breaking abstract submissions both for oral and poster presentations. And we had our highest number of registrations by the time of the early bird deadline, where close to 300 delegates who have registered as of the early bird. So that just completely blew me away. And just thank you for all of the support from the board and from the scientific committee and everybody who’s


really helped to make that the success it is. And I really hope that everyone who’s going has a really fabulous time. I think we’ve taken a few risks this year in terms of there was a bit of nervousness at the time about going to Amsterdam. And I think we’ve hopefully shown that that was a gamble that should pay off. And then we also took a few gambles with the venue. It’s not a hotel venue, it’s a conference venue.


There’ll be more content that we’ll be putting it on so people will have the most days the choice of four parallel sessions versus our typical three. So hopefully no matter what your sort of preferences in terms of where you work in the industry they’ll hopefully be something that you’ll be really excited and engaged to learn about. And we’ve also taken on a lot of feedback from exhibitors and sponsors from previous years and we’ve changed things up again a little bit.


their experience. So hopefully, we’re just learning as we go. And I’m hopeful when I pass on to Kate, she’ll keep it growing. But yeah, everything so far with conference, I couldn’t be more proud of. And I’m a glutton for punishment for wanting to do something else now. Just to put numbers into perspective, so close to 300 people before the early birth registration.


How many attendees did we have overall for the last conference in London last year? It was about 350, about 350 in total last year. We are nearly there just by the early bird rate. Still a couple of months to go. Just to sort of temper that.


conference. It was not quite 400, but not too far off. So we’ve still got a little bit of a way to go. But as I say, we still had more people registered now than we did at the same time for Berlin. So hopefully that’s a positive piece and hopefully, you know, there’s still a number of weeks to go.


PSI Board of Directors and your achievements. Nomi, I think you have already discussed a little bit about your media interactions there and how you hope to have a more balanced reporting of science in the medical field, which I think is really huge given all the fake news that we have around and the kind of over and thread.


exploitation and a kind of very, very, let’s say, skewed titles that we see in the papers. Do you want to kind of add anything on top of that? Yeah, so that, I mean, that was when I was on the External Affairs Committee. So then I guess my role now is the very excitingly named Partnerships and Contracts Director.


to which I’m sure most people wonder what that really involves. I think one of the main parts of that is working closely with MCI. So MCI are our secretariat, they do the administration for PSI. And I think it’s fair to say when I came on to board, that partnership wasn’t going particularly smoothly at that time. The board members, committee members and just the ordinary members were…


not Leslie, always able to get a response quickly. And so, you know, we really, there was probably a good year or so of really having some very open, honest conversations with MCI working closely with them, also asking them for feedback on us, what will we change, what we do better, and looking with them looking for solutions. And one thing that has changed in the last couple years, I think has made a big difference is we have now separated the conference team at MCI, because I think it was a real crunch point as


Lucy is well aware as we get closer to a conference, it gets extremely busy for everyone involved in anything to do with the conference. And so to have a separate team at MCI that can work on that, then the other people can carry on keeping PSI running in every other way. I’m really pleased though, the new relationship is working really well. I think it’s been working well for a good year or so, if not longer. I really haven’t had any…


I regularly ask for feedback from the board. I haven’t really had any negative feedback for quite a long time, which is brilliant. And MCI, there are different people involved now as well, but really I think one of the main changes they’ve had is they’re really proactive and they’re coming to us with great ideas now. They work with membership organizations, that’s what they do. And it’s been really good to hear their ideas because I think they’ve got some great expertise that we can learn from them. So I’m really pleased this last year we signed a new three-year contract with them.


So we’re with them till 2020. Other contracts I get involved in, publication ones with Riley, I have to say really for things like that, Ray is the publication director, he would really drive that. I get involved in it, I’m involved in those discussions, but really it’s the publications director there. And one thing I have done in that role, though I did sit on the joint assessment committee during the discussions around the merger with the RSS. So really, you know, that…


obviously didn’t happen, but in that role on the Joint Assessment Committee, our remit was to, it was, you know, people from PSI, people from the RSS, and to talk about firstly, could it work? Could we do it? And if so, how would we implement it? So it wasn’t necessarily that, you know, that was up to the members to decide when we went ahead on our, but we were looking at whether it was even possible, where were our red lines? So I was, you know, there at the table talking about, you know,


negotiating with the RSS and it was very clear things like the conference that was absolutely clear that we were not going to have an RSS, you know, the PSI conference merge into the RSS conference. It’s too important to us. It’s an amazing event and we didn’t want to see that. And so part of those discussions were also we had to be very honest with the RSS about the concerns of PSI members. And I think most people will know there was a concern about two very different cultures and a feeling like if we went to the RSS that


we would be swallowed up by their culture. So we had, you know, discussions there. We had to have a very, very, honestly with them, I guess I think that’s another kind of things directly in that role. And I just, I could say just being on the board for four years in all those discussions, I certainly make sure I’m vocal. I don’t, I think hopefully in a constructive way, but as discussions are going on about all the different groups, all the different committees and what they’re doing, then obviously I get involved in their discussions and.


I’ve had an influence on the general direction of the board over the last four years since I’ve been on it. So in terms of the merger discussions, of course, that was a major event in the recent years for PSI. And there was lots of lots of social media activities around that. There was a pro campaign and a contra campaign.


think you were both on different sides of the campaign, weren’t you? No, they were on the same side. I was. I moved around a bit but I ended up on the yes. Tricking question. Okay, let’s speed up a little bit because we are already at more than 20 minutes in in this episode.


Maybe you can give a kind of very short answer to the question of why do you want to become Chair of PSI? And maybe Lucy, you can go first. Sure. Well, I want to be Chair because I think I do a really great job. I think that I’ve shown leadership skills both in terms of what we’ve been doing with the conference, but also outside of PSI.


in terms of the work that I’ve been doing in my sort of day job at Roche, leading really complex cross-functional teams. So hopefully chairing the board of directors will be very easy in comparison to that, I say. But it’s certainly something that I know I’ll enjoy doing from having sat on there for a couple of years and sort of, I mean, it’s such a fun in terms of atmosphere on the board, for those of you who probably


wonder what goes on. I mean everybody is you know really polite and friendly and everyone is, as Naomi said, you know people are challenging each other but only to do the best that we can for PSI and so it’s always done in a very relaxed light-hearted fashion and I think that fits with my style quite nicely. But I think mainly I’m just really really motivated to keep moving PSI forward


growing. We’re all very aware of some of the sort of issues we’ve been having with membership etc and I think I’ve learned so much from doing the conference chair role and as I said that has been growing and I think there’s a lot of opportunity and lessons learned from conference that if I had the time to be able to dedicate it now to the chair role could help us try and sort of shift that around.

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