Phastar celebrates third annual Sally Hollis Memorial Lecture

A great turnout of members from the Phastar family, together with guests from the wider community, gathered in Macclesfield for an evening of education, commemoration, and celebration at the third annual Sally Hollis Memorial Lecture event.

This year’s lecture was delivered by Professor Deborah Ashby, Interim Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College, on the topic of data-monitoring for complex clinical trials – an issue at the interface of academia and industry. 

Prof Ashby’s research interests include clinical trials, risk-benefit decision making for medicines, and the utility of Bayesian approaches. In her lecture, she discussed how a move away from the bedrock of two-group trials and the creation of multiple endpoints is creating new challenges for data monitoring committees (DMCs) and busting the relatively standard framework we have used in the past.

"The pandemic was a tipping point, we’ve known about the possibilities of, for example, platform trials for a long time but they have only recently started coming into routine use,” said Prof Ashby, a previous director of the School of Public Health and a founding co-director of the Imperial Clinical Trials Unit.

“COVID-19 showed how we can rapidly launch platform trials and provide results, but it also highlighted the data monitoring issues which start arising because of that. These trials are much more efficient, they are the future, but they require us to go back to first principles and really think about the questions we want answered.”

Professor Jennifer Visser-Rogers, VP, Statistical Research and Consultancy at Phastar said: “We are seeing increasing adoption of complex trials because of their efficiency which can help bring improved patient treatments and outcomes to market quicker. But if we are to make the most of these new designs, whilst keeping patients safe and ensuring data quality, sharing best practice on how to identify and overcome the obstacles is of the utmost importance.

“As a leading biometrics CRO, Phastar takes its responsibility for keeping both our team and the wider research community abreast of the latest trends in the sector very seriously. We are proud to have contributed to the sector’s learning journey with the latest Sally Hollis Memorial Lecture. We would like to thank Prof Ashby for sharing her extensive knowledge and experience with us. It was a fantastic evening, and a fitting tribute to Prof Hollis.”


Prof Ashby is the third, world-renowned Statistics expert to give the lecture since its inception in 2020, following the death of Professor Sally Hollis.

Prof Hollis, who started her career at the Hope Hospital in Salford and went on to be a founding member of Lancaster University’s Medical Statistics Unit, was a much-loved and highly respected member of the Phastar team and wider medical statistics community. She was an immensely talented leader, and her contributions were recognised as outstanding by everyone who had the privilege of working with her.

Headshot of Professor Sally Hollis
Professor Sally Hollis

Recognising Prof Hollis’ own substantial cross-disciplinary impact, commemorative lecture alternates each year between academia and industry.


This year’s lecture was held at Phastar’s Macclesfield site – a hub for the life sciences sector in the northwest of England. It was followed by a drink’s reception, giving guests the opportunity to network, share ideas, and discuss the future of clinical trial statistics.

The evening was also an opportunity to present Phastar statistics manager, Stephen Corson, with the Sally Hollis 2023 award for outstanding contribution.

The award recognises Stephen´s contribution as a key driver of success and for being an asset to Phastar. Stephen is hugely successful in all that he is involved in and has had a massive impact over the past 2 years as stats lead and mentoring colleagues in FSP roles.

He represents Phastar externally on multiple committees such as DIA Statistics and Data Science Committee where his contributions were recognised when he received the DIA 2023 Global Inspire Award.

Congratulating him on his win, Professor Jennifer Visser-Rogers said: “Stephen is a great ambassador for Phastar and the vision for the Phastar Knowledge Hub, to share insights and experience within the industry. He has been part of the DIA’s Statistics and Data Science Community for the past three years, and regularly shares his vast knowledge of statistics at the DIA Global Annual Meeting, as well as at other industry events.”

To mark his achievement, Phastar has made a £2,500 donation to the charity of his choice, Children in Poverty in Inverclyde. Based just three miles from Stephen’s Scotland home, the group offers local, underprivileged families and children with additional needs free activity holidays at the Hunters Quay Holiday Park, on the Cowal Peninsula.

  • For more on Prof Ashby's lecture, click here to download her slides