Biostatistics at the heart of research

Congratulations to Professor Andy Vail, Salford R+D’s statistics lead, who has given his inaugural professorial lecture at The University of Manchester.

Andy has worked with Salford Royal since 1999 and developed the statistics group within R+D. He leads the Centre for Biostatistics in the School of Health Sciences and directs the Greater Manchester office of the NIHR Research Design Service North West.

He was described as an ‘inspiration’ by Professor Kay Marshall, head of the School of Health Sciences, who went on to call him a phenomenal colleague, researcher and teacher. “He is the person to go to if you need any advice on biostatistics and especially the methodology you need to do stroke research,” she added.

In his lecture, Andy emphasised that statistics is an essential component for worthwhile impact in research – and said there should be no apology for pedantry when it makes so much difference!

His whirlwind summary of his career touched on his time with the World Health Organisation International Agency for Research on Cancer, at the UK Transplant Service looking at risk factors for corneal transplant and at Leeds General Infirmary, where he was involved in some of the early summaries of trial results that eventually led onto the birth of the Cochrane Collaboration. This is now a worldwide organisation producing reviews that summarize the best available evidence generated through research to inform decisions about health.

Since his move to Salford Royal and the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, he’s worked with hundreds of researchers across experimental medicine, acute stroke and rehabilitation research.

His key collaborations in stroke research in Salford and Manchester have included many projects with Professors Pippa Tyrrell MBE, Dame Nancy Rothwell and Craig Smith.