PSI Training Course: Introduction to Machine Learning

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Date: Monday 22nd - Thursday 25th April 2024
Time: 09:00-12:30 BST (on all 4 days)
Location: Online via Zoom
Presenters: Moira Verbelen (UCB), Jolyon Faria (AstraZeneca), Leo Souliotis (AstraZeneca) and Dan de Vassimon Manela (UCB).

Who is this event intended for? This course is aimed at clinical trial statisticians who are new to or with limited experience of machine learning.
What is the benefit of attending? 
Attendees will learn about a range of topics in machine learning, including practical sessions in R.


Early Bird PSI Members = £320+VAT
Early Bird Non-Members = £430*+VAT
*Please note: Early Bird prices expire at 17:00 on Friday 22nd March 2024.

Standard PSI Members = £360+VAT
Standard Non-Members = £470*+VAT
*Please note: Non-Member rates include PSI membership until 31 Dec. 2024. 


To register your place, please click here.


Four sessions will include ML foundation (including an introduction, data exploration for ML and dimensionality reduction and feature selection), Supervised learning (including support vector machines and model evaluation and interpretation), model optimization and unsupervised learning (including clustering) and advanced topics (including neural networks, deep learning and large language models). 


The examples covered in this Course will be in relation to Clinical Trials. For an overview of what will be covered across the four sessions, please see below. 
(Please be advised: this agenda may be subject to minor revisions)

Day 1: ML Foundation

  • Definitions and terminology
  • Key aspects of ML workflow
    - Planning
    - Pre-processing
    - Data splitting
    - Modelling, cross validation, hyperparameter estimation
    - Evaluation
    - Reporting
  • “ML in a day”. “Lightening” overview of simple ML workflow using R packages dplyr, caret, ggplot2 using logistic regression. This will be used as a starting point to exemplify key aspects of ML, and as a point of comparison for further methods such as Elastic Net (regularised regression), gradient boosting and neural networks
  • Common pitfalls and key considerations for using ML models in practice, and reviewing ML analyses, with a focus on the analysis of clinical trial data

Day 2: Supervised learning

  • What is supervised learning? Definitions and examples of scenario’s
  • Supervised learning workflow (short recap)
  • Supervised Algorithms:
    - LASSO and Elastic Net
    - Decision trees and Random Forest
    - Support Vector Machines
  • Evaluation and interpretation of these algorithms
  • Practical session in R: Application of above methods in caret

Day 3: Unsupervised learning (including clustering)

  • Definitions and comparison to supervised learning
  • K-means, PCA, Non-linear approaches such as tSNE
  • Worked examples in R

Day 4: Neural Networks and Deep Learning

  • DEMO: ML in SAS
    - How to use R ML from SAS Viya
    - How to use no-code/low-code ML
    - How to use SAS ML procs in R Studio
  • Introduction to neural networks and basic architectures
  • Deep learning, Large Language models, Computer Vision
  • Discussion of Machine Learning vs Statistics: what are the differences, how much to they overlap, when to use what

Speaker details



Moira Verbelen

Moira Verbelen is Head of Machine Learning, AI and Data at UCB, and is passionate about adopting and implementing innovative AI methods in pharmaceutical research, in particular delivering AI solutions throughout all phases of clinical development. With a background bridging Pharmaceutical Sciences and Biostatistics, Moira holds a PhD from King’s College London, specializing in Machine Learning applied to Pharmacogenetics.

Jolyon Faria

Jolyon Faria works within the LASER Team within Oncology Data Science at AstraZeneca. He is aligned to the Lung cancer portfolio and his role is to perform retrospective analyses of AZ clinical trials and relevant multimodal data, with a focus on Statistics and Machine Learning, to inform the AZ Strategy for instance for PhIII Investment Decisions. He has a background in Biology: PhD (Univ. Leeds);

Postdoc (Princeton Univ.), and Applied Statistics: (MSc Univ. Oxford) and is a Chartered Statistician (CSTAT; Royal Statistical Society, UK).

Leo Souliotis

Leo Souliotis is part of the LASER team within the Oncology Data Science at AstraZeneca.

His role includes performing statistical and ML analyses in Lung studies, focusing on multi-study analysis in the Lung space. He is also leading an internal course on how

to use Python for Data Analysis. He is a Data Camp instructor, after developing the “Efficient Python coding in pandas ". He has a background in Statistics: MSc (Imperial

College London), PhD (University of Warwick).

Dan de Vassimon Manela
Dan de Vassimon Manela is a Machine Learning R&D and Innovation Lead at UCB and is interested in using Probabilistic Machine Learning methods to solve clinical problems across the pharmaceutical development chain. He has a background in Physics (BA, MSc Cambridge) and Statistical Machine Learning (MSci UCL).


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