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Ethics of Big Data in practice: Administrative data

Wednesday, 10 February 2016, 12.00pm to 2.00pm

Ethics of Big Data in practice: Administrative data 

Introduction: Professor Anna Vignoles (Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge)

Guest speaker: Andy Boyd (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children - ALSPAC)

This session will explore the ethico-legal challenges faced by by the research community when using routine health and social administrative records in a secondary context. There will be a particular focus on the use of individual-level data in longitudinal research studies. I will discuss: the characteristics of ethical, or 'bona-fide', research; public views on the use of their information; the involvement of the public (as research participants) in the research process; consent; information privacy and anonymity; and the use of technological, procedural and data processing tools to meet diverse ethical challenges and safeguard participant interests.


Andy Boyd is the Data Linkage & Information Security Manager at the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) - a birth cohort study which has followed the health and development of ~15,000 families from the Bristol area over the last 25 years (

Andy manages the ALSPAC work programme to integrate the routine records of study participants into the ALSPAC DataBank and prepare them for research use. Andy also leads a work program at the CLOSER cohort consortium project (a consortium of eight of the leading UK birth cohort and longitudinal studies) which aims to develop technological and procedural solutions to overcome ethico-legal barriers to the use of routine records in research.



Please note, spaces are limited and participants are encouraged to apply early to secure a place.

 This session is open to researchers by application and discussion will be conducted under Chatham House rules.


Recommended reading:

 Data Safe Havens in health research and healthcare.


DataSHIELD: taking the analysis to the data, not the data to the analysis. (


and for those curious about ALSPAC:

Cohort Profile: The 'Children of the 90s'—the index offspring of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children ("

Forthcoming talks

Achieving Consistent Low Latency for Wireless Real-Time Communications with the Shortest Control Loop

Thursday, 18 August 2022, 4.00pm to 5.00pm
Speaker: Zili Meng, Tsinghua Unversity
Venue: FW11 and

Real-time communication (RTC) applications like video conferencing or cloud gaming require consistent low latency to provide a seamless interactive experience. However, wireless networks including WiFi and cellular, albeit providing a satisfactory median latency, drastically degrade at the tail due to frequent and substantial wireless bandwidth fluctuations. We observe that the control loop for the sending rate of RTC applications is inflated when congestion happens at the wireless access point (AP), resulting in untimely rate adaption to wireless dynamics. Existing solutions, however, suffer from the inflated control loop and fail to quickly adapt to bandwidth fluctuations. In this paper, we propose Zhuge, a pure wireless AP based solution that reduces the control loop of RTC applications by separating congestion feedback from congested queues. We design a Fortune Teller to precisely estimate per-packet wireless latency upon its arrival at the wireless AP. To make Zhuge deployable at scale, we also design a Feedback Updater that translates the estimated latency to comprehensible feedback messages for various protocols and immediately delivers them back to senders for rate adaption. Trace-driven and real-world evaluation shows that Zhuge reduces the ratio of large tail latency and RTC performance degradation by 17% to 95%.

Speaker Bio: Zili is a 3rd-year PhD student in Tsinghua University. His current research interest focuses on real-time video communications. He has published several papers in SIGCOMM / NSDI and received the Microsoft Research Asia PhD Fellowship, Gold Medal of SIGCOMM 2018 Student Research Competition, and two best paper awards.

BSU Seminar: "Genome-wide genetic models for association, heritability analyses and prediction"

Monday, 22 August 2022, 4.30pm to 5.30pm
Speaker: David Balding, Honorary Professor of Statistical Genetics at UCL Genetics Institute and University of Melbourne
Venue: Seminar Rooms 1 & 2, School of Clinical Medicine, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0SP

Although simultaneous analysis of genome-wide SNPs has been popular for over a decade, the problems posed by more SNPs than study participants (more parameters than data points), and correlations among the SNPs, have not been adequately overcome so that almost all published genome-wide analyses are suboptimal. While there has been much attention paid to the shape of prior distributions for SNP effect sizes, we argue that this attention is misplaced. We focus on what we call the "heritability model": a low-dimensional model for the expected heritability at each SNP, which is key to both individual-data and summary-statistic analyses. The 1-df uniform heritability model has been implicitly adopted in a wide range of analyses. Replacing it with better heritability models, using predictors based on allele frequency, linkage disequilibrium and functional annotations, leads to substantial improvements in estimates of heritability and selection parameters over traits, and over genome regions, as well as improvements in gene-based association testing and prediction. Key collaborators Doug Speed, Aarhus, Denmark and Melbourne PhD student Anubhav Kaphle.

Statistics Clinic Summer 2022 III

Wednesday, 31 August 2022, 5.30pm to 7.00pm
Speaker: Speaker to be confirmed
Venue: Venue to be confirmed

If you would like to participate, please fill in the following "form": The deadline for signing up for a session is 12pm on Monday the 29th of August. Subject to availability of members of the Statistics Clinic team, we will confirm your in-person or remote appointment.

This event is open only to members of the University of Cambridge (and affiliated institutes). Please be aware that we are unable to offer consultations outside clinic hours.

Statistics Clinic Summer 2022 IV

Wednesday, 21 September 2022, 5.30pm to 7.00pm
Speaker: Speaker to be confirmed
Venue: Venue to be confirmed

Abstract not available

Title to be confirmed

Monday, 26 September 2022, 3.00pm to 4.00pm
Speaker: Christopher Yau, University of Manchester
Venue: CRUK CI Lecture Theatre

Abstract not available