Professor Deborah Ashby, President of the RSS, gives the 2020 Florence Nightingale lecture.
Florence Nightingale, best known as the Lady with the Lamp, is recognised as a pioneering and passionate statistician. She was also passionate about education, having argued successfully with her parents to be allowed to study mathematics, and later nursing, herself. More widely, she offered opinions on the education of children, soldiers, army doctors, and nurses, as well as railing against the ‘enforced idleness’ of women. A particular concern was the lack of statistical literacy among politicians. As we celebrate the bicentenary of her birth, the need for education in statistical and data skills shows no signs of abating. What advice would Florence Nightingale offer were she here today?
The Lecture was followed by a Panel Session with Professor Deborah Ashby, Professor David Cox and Professor David Spiegelhalter. The Panel was chaired by Professor Jennifer Rogers about the role of statistics in society.
Deborah Ashby is Director of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London where she holds the Chair in Medical Statistics and Clinical Trials, and was Founding Co-Director of Imperial Clinical Trials Unit. She is a Chartered Statistician and her research interests are in clinical trials, risk-benefit decision making for medicines, and the utility of Bayesian approaches in these areas. She has sat on the UK Commission on Human Medicines and acts as adviser to the European Medicines Agency. Deborah was awarded the OBE for services to medicine in 2009, appointed an NIHR Senior Investigator in 2010, and elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2012. She is currently President of the Royal Statistical Society.