Last week I attended the PAGE conference in Montreux, Switzerland. PAGE conference organizers love beautiful scenery and parties at least as much as they love the scientific program and this year was no different. Montreux is a gem of a Swiss town overlooking Lake Geneva and the Swiss Alps. It is also the final resting place of one my favorite writers, Vladimir Nabokov, as well as his son Dmitri and his wife Vera.

There were several activities related to Bayes and Stan at the conference. Here is a quick summary.

Scott K Pruitt’s talk entitled Clinical Overview of Immunotherapy in Oncology stood out. In his words:

A major challenge remains over how, in Phase 1b/2 studies, to identify promising combinations that have enhanced efficacy over PD-1/PD-L1 blockage alone and therefore warrant further clinical investigation. It is also not clear if the unique paradigm of accelerated approval based on single arm trial data with a subsequent confirmatory pivotal study will be acceptable for such combinations of multiple agents or whether the “combination rule” will require larger multiple arm studies that in turn would delay access of dying cancer patients to potentially effective immunotherapy combination regimens.

Combination trials are challenging for traditional methods of analysis as they effectively reduce the size of the per-treatment sample, but they are natural for Bayesian analysis where we can take advantage of the hierarchical nature of the model to learn both local and average effects.