ASCO 2016

Highlights from this year's conference

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) held its annual mega-conference in Chicago, IL this year. With more than 30,000 participants it is the largest international oncology conference. Every year the ASCO meeting takes the measure of the development in cancer research. This year was no exception. The volume of results was truly staggering. There were several important updates that have bearing on the direction of oncology therapeutics.  

Last year's revolutionary advance "Immunotherapy" had many important updates this year. Many of the presentations on Immunotherapy focused on combining Immunotherapies with other cancer treatments. Success of this approach varied but there were some successes particularly in inhibiting tumor growth. Several important updates to which tumors that are susceptible to an immunotherapeutic approach were presented. Genetic data from a range of tumor types pointed to bladder and bowel cancer as good targets although Dr Jedd Wolchock, from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, cautioned during a high-profile immunotherapy session that the approach “is going to take some tinkering before we know what will work for each patient”.

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PHASTAR attending ASCO 2016 meeting

PHASTAR are attending the ASCO annual meeting, which brings together 30,000 oncology professionals from around the world. Educational sessions feature world-renowned faculty discussing state-of-the-art treatment modalities, new therapies, and ongoing controversies in the field.

Clinical studies in oncology have a variety of statistical issues that need to be considered in their design and analysis:

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SAS Art 2015 - The Results

SAS Art Competition 2015 - The Results

Once again, we were amazed by the diversity of artistic talent there is amongst pharmaceutical statisticians and SAS programmers. We had planned to offer one prize, but we have selected a winner and a runner up, as both were extremely close in the final votes.

The Winner


This piece, inspired by Van Gogh's painting "Field with Poppies" (June 1890), by Andrew Ndikom was voted the winning entry. Andrew describes the work in the following way:

This picture is inspired by the Van Gogh painting Field with Poppies (June 1890). It is constructed from 15000 dots using the pointillism technique. Van Gogh painted several versions of this painting, each one slightly different from the next. The program I have written is able to replicate this approach and is effectively able to produce an infinite number of different versions of the same image. This is achieved through random number generation, with the result that each iteration of the program creates a painting that is unique in terms of its colour, content and composition. Other versions can be viewed in this link.

One of Van Gogh's original versions is shown to the right.

Vincent van Gogh - Poppy field2

Programmatically this is done by creating an annotation dataset, every observation of which determines the properties of an individual point in the painting. The variables of the dataset control the position, colour, transparency and size of each dot and these characteristics are determined by a series of random variables. The cumulative effect of this is that individual images can differ greatly, and that the shade of the field, the shape of the trees, the strength of the sun or the placement of the corn will be different each time.

The sky for example, is built from 6000 points of eight different colours. The colour of each point is selected by generating a random variable between 0 and 1 based on the uniform distribution (using the RANUNI function), if this number falls within a given range then the point is assigned a particular colour. For example if the random variable takes a value between 0.5 and 0.6 then the point generated by this observation will be colour CXAF95A6 (the light colour from the Phastar logo). The position of each point in the sky is similarly determined from a different pair of random variable whose values are re-scaled so that the sky covers the whole image horizontally but only the upper portion vertically.

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SAS Winner 2015

 Festive Prize

The winning festive entry was received from Laura Culley a new masters graduate statistician at PHASTAR - this is being used as the design for our PHASTAR 2015 Christmas cards.

Christmas SAS Art - Laura Culley 

Code Here 





SAS ART 2015

SAS Art Competition 2015 - Open to All.

Did you know that you can use SAS to create interesting graphics and even conceptual art? We would like to invite all SAS users to take part in a competition to create interesting art and graphics. The winning entry will receive a £500 shopping token (which can be donated to your chosen charity, if preferred). The entries should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 5pm UK time on Friday 27th November 2015. We would ideally like the artwork to be printable in large format (A0 or 1 metre square approximately), although the file can be sent as either a bitmap or JPEG file in smaller format. Please include the SAS code and graphic in your email, along with any other explanation required to understand and/or interpret the artwork. All entries should incorporate at least one of the colours in the PHASTAR logo (the darker colour is cx73002E and the lighter colour is CXAF95A6).

This year we will have an additional category: a £200 shopping token will be awarded to the best Christmas themed SAS generated art, and will also feature on PHASTAR Christmas cards this year.

Here's an example:

 SAS Art Example

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