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Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics (CEBU)

The Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit (CEBU) specialises in biostatistics, epidemiological methods and data management. The group is supported by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and the University of Melbourne Department of Paediatrics, to provide expertise and support in these areas to all researchers on The Royal Children's Hospital campus. The group collaborates with a wide range of clinical and biomedical investigators and also conducts methodological research to develop and strengthen the biostatistical methods underpinning modern health research.

The unit’s work is fundamentally important across many clinical and health problems, because almost all modern research involving patients and children relies heavily on statistical methods in order to design high-quality studies and to interpret the resulting data appropriately. Murdoch Children's has developed a national profile in this area and the CEBU unit is widely regarded as a leading example of how internationally-respected biostatistical expertise can be developed and integrated into major health research programs. The group’s work on the method of “multiple imputation” for managing missing data problems has attracted international recognition.

CEBU offers a number of highly regarded short courses in research methods, biostatistics and data management. Learn more

Group Leaders: 
Team Leaders: 
Group Members: 
Julie Perkins
Role: 
Administration Officer
Sarah Arnup
Role: 
Biostatistician/Research Officer
Rushani Wijesuriya
Role: 
PhD Student
Dr Anneke Grobler
Role: 
Senior Research Fellow
Dr Ghazaleh Dashti
Role: 
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Marnie Downes
Role: 
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Susan Ellul
Role: 
Research Associate
Katie Francis
Role: 
Biostatistician (Snr Research Officer)
Dr Rheanna Mainzer
Role: 
Research Officer
Dr Rachel Schembri
Role: 
Biostatistician (Snr Research Officer)
Sri Joshi
Role: 
Database Manager
Fiona Snashell
Role: 
Administration Officer

The group is involved in a large number of projects, ranging from brief one-off consultancies to collaborations lasting decades. Some of the major projects are:

Methodological Research

ViCBiostat: the Victorian Centre for Biostatistics, a Centre of Research Excellence in biostatistics.
Originallly funded by an NHMRC grant, ViCBiostat provides support for postdoctoral biostatisticians and PhD students working on a range of methodological research projects.
John Carlin, Katherine Lee and Margarita Moreno-Betancur, MCRI, with Andrew Forbes, Rory Wolfe and Jessica Kazsa, Monash University, and Lyle Gurrin and Julie Simpson, University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

Addressing new challenges with missing data in complex epidemiological studies: methods, guidance and software 
This research program continues to add to knowledge and guidance on effective use of methods such as multiple imputation to handle missing data in health research.
Katherine Lee, Margarita Moreno-Betancur, Cattram Nguyen and John Carlin

Causal inference in health data science: advancing understanding and methods
This program of research aims to develop, disseminate and promote the adoption of modern causal thinking and related methods in medical and health research. 
Margarita Moreno-Betancur and John Carlin

The Australian Trials Methodology (AusTriM) Research Network 
This network brings Australia’s leading biostatisticians with expertise in trials together with investigators who conduct landmark trials to develop, evaluate and apply innovative approaches in design and analysis of clinical trials.
Katherine Lee, Kaushala Jayawardana and John Carlin

Collaborative Health Research

The Melbourne Children's Trials Centre (MCTC)
In our role with the MCTC we work to design and analyse randomised controlled trials to address important questions about effectiveness of a wide range of clinical interventions, with researchers across the Melbourne Childrens Campus. Major trials that we support include:
•    BRACE: BCG vaccination to combat COVID-19 (PI Nigel Curtis)
•    VITALITY: Vitamin D to prevent allergy (PI Kirsten Perrett)
•    Strengthening Care for Children (PI Harriet Hiscock)
•    POLAR: A randomised control trial of PEEP levels during resuscitation of preterm infants at birth  (PI David Tingay)
•    TREX: A comparison of long-term outcomes after two different anaesthetics (PI Andrew Davidson) 
•    PEAT: Probiotic oral immunotherapy for the treatment of egg allergy (PI Mimi Tang)
Katherine Lee, Anneke Grobler, Francesca Orsini, Rachel Schembri, Kaushala Jayawardana and Xiaofang Wang.

MCRI’s LifeCourse Initiative
We provide methodological leadership within the LifeCourse initiative, which is a hub for observational research grouping the over 40 clinical and population-based longitudinal cohort studies housed at the Melbourne Children’s
Margarita Moreno-Betancur and Marnie Downes, with David Burgner, Craig Olsson and colleagues

Generation Victoria (GenV)
We provide high-level support with respect to research design and biostatistics to this major initiative to create a large state-wide cohort study of newborn children.
John Carlin, Katherine Lee, Margarita Moreno-Betancur, with Melissa Wake and colleagues

Centre for Adolescent Health (CAH)
We have a longstanding collaboration with CAH, providing support to two major longitudinal cohort studies: the Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study (VAHCS) and the Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS)
Margarita Moreno-Betancur, Ghazaleh Dashti and John Carlin, with George Patton and colleagues

Neurodisability and Developmental Group
We provide statistical support to this group’s extensive range of studies into the causes and management of childhood disabilities.
Margarita Moreno-Betancur and Daisy Shepherd, with David Amor and colleagues

The Victorian Infant Brain Study
Katherine Lee and Diana Zannino with Peter Anderson, Deanne Thompson and colleagues. 

The Barwon Infant Study: a prebirth cohort study investigating the interplay between the modern environment and the early life origins of eczema, food allergy, asthma and atherosclerosis.
John Carlin and Margarita Moreno-Betancur, with Peter Vuillermin, Anne-Louise Ponsonby and colleagues

OPTIMIST: A multicentre randomised controlled trial of minimally-invasive surfactant therapy in very preterm infants on continuous positive airway pressure.
John Carlin and Francesca Orsini with Peter Dargaville and colleagues, Royal Hobart Hospital & Royal Women's Hospital

MIS-BAIR: BCG (TB) immunisation to prevent the development of allergy in infants
Susan Donath with Nigel Curtis and colleagues

PLUSS: Preventing Lung Disease Using Surfactant + Steroid. A multicentre randomised controlled trial of surfactant plus budesonide to improve survival free of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in extremely preterm infants
Susan Donath with Omar Kamlin, Brett Manley and colleagues, Royal Women’s Hospital

SONIC: Study of neck injuries in children. A large prospective observational study to develop a new or validate existing international clinical decision rules for children presenting to the emergency department with suspected cervical spinal injuries
Susan Donath, Kate Francis, with Franz Babl and colleagues

Funding: 

Overview

Collaborations: 
  • Professor Andrew Forbes, Professor Rory Wolfe & Dr Jessica Kasza, Biostatistics Group, Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, Monash University
  • Professor Julie Simpson & Professor Lyle Gurrin, University of Melbourne
  • Professor Ian White, MRC Clinical Trials Unit, University College London, U.K.
  • Professor James Carpenter, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Professor Kate Tiling, University of Bristol
  • Professor Stijn Vansteelandt, Ghent University, Belgium
  • Professor Andrew Gelman, Columbia University, U.S.A.