UiB Blogg            

An autumn with Bayesian approaches in Vienna

14. December, 2017


Hi, my name is Aliaksandr Hubin and I am a PhD student at the department of Mathematics of the University of Oslo. In this report I would like to share my international exchange experience, which took place in Autumn 2017 and was funded by the NORBIS travel grant.


During my exchange I was staying in Vienna, Austria for a period of 3 months (from September to November 2017). There I was visiting Dr. Florian Frommlet, an assistant professor in statistics at the Center for Medical Statistics, Informatics and Intelligent Systems of Medical University of  Vienna.


During the stay we have been working jointly on several projects. First of all we continued the collaboration and applied previously developed MJMCMC and GMJMCMC algorithms to GWAS studies. Performance of the algorithms was compared to other popular Bayesian approaches to GWAS such as MOSGWA and PiMass. The comparison was made on several simulation scenarios. Now the real data analysis is to be performed to finalize the paper. The results are to be published in the article entitled “A comprehensive study of Bayesian approaches to Genome-Wide Association Studies” written in collaboration with Michael Hagmann, Bernhard Bodenstorfer, Artur Gola, Małgorzata Bogdan, and Florian Frommlet.


Additionally we were finalizing the paper entitled “Deep nonlinear regression models in a Bayesian framework”, written together with Geir Storvik and Florian Frommlet. In this paper we have introduced the concept of a Deep Bayesian Regression model, which generalizes logic regressions, neural networks, fractional polynomials, and tree based regressions (and some other statistical learning approaches) into a flexible and general Bayesian framework. We then have suggested several algorithms for fitting DBR models. Several inference and prediction based examples were studied. In particular we have shown that the approach allows to recover highly nonlinear physical laws (like for example the 3rd Keppler’s law) in a closed form with a large power and low proportion of false positives. Additionally it showed good performance in asteroid and breast cancer classification problems. Finally some epigenetic study was performed with a goal to find optimal structure of dependence between the epigenetic observations and genetic factors in Arabidopsis thaliana.


Within the exchange duration I have given a talk entitled “Deep nonlinear regression models in a Bayesian framework” within Wiener Biometrische Sektion series of seminars. I have also had a chance to attend several other talks within Wiener Biometrische Sektion seminars and the as​ ​ autumn seminar “Young​ ​ Statisticians”, held at the Medical University of Vienna. Apart from that I attended the doctoral thesis defence of one of the fellow PhD students. This was an extremely interesting experience too, since the defense procedure was quite different from what I had seen in Norway.


The last but not least I met extremely interesting people carrying out advanced research in medical statistics ranging from clinical trials to survival analysis.


To conclude, I would like to thank NORBIS for an opportunity to spend these fantastic three months in beautiful Vienna, where not only I carried out some interesting research, but also had a chance to enjoy the imperial architecture and see numerous performances at the Opera House and Volksoper.










A report from the Center of Systems Biology in Reykjavik, Iceland

27. November, 2017

by Kjersti Rise, NTNU


I hadn’t really given a research stay abroad much thought when I started my PhD, it seemed like fun, but too much extra work in order to make it happen, and there were so many other things I already had to do. Then suddenly one day well into my second year everything changed, and I was writing applications and talking to scientists abroad, and about two months later I was on my way to the Center of Systems Biology in Reykjavik, Iceland!



Thanks to the travel grant from NORBIS, I ended up having the time of my life. I got to work in an exciting group, learning how to create and use genome scale models of cells, further develop code for these analyses, meet new people, and I got to discover Iceland! Working on a (for me) new topic was challenging, it required a lot of work, but I also learned way beyond what I had expected. It helped me learn a new programming language, a new way of thinking, getting a new perspective on possibilities in analysing biological data, and develop me as a scientist. Working together with brand new people with different backgrounds than myself was also very interesting, and I learned a lot from working with them. I made both new friends and new connections, and hopefully some of these new connections will become collaborators in the future.



Although the Icelandic climate is not all that different from the Norwegian one, and most of the people living in Iceland speak fairly understandable English, it was still a both strange and wonderful experience living in a foreign country for a while. Iceland is absolutely stunning, and learning Icelandic is really not for the faint at heart. I fell in love with the country, the science, the language, pretty much everything, and that’s all thanks to NORBIS who supported me financially, and made it possible. Travelling alone and figuring things out by yourself in a foreign country is always a good way of learning a lot about yourself, and the world around you. It changes perspective, not only in regards to science and work, but also in the way one sees the world. Yes, there was a bit of work required to make it happen (most of it when I came home, actually!), but not as much as I initially thought, and it was all so worth it. I’m so grateful I got to have this experience, and I can highly recommend some time abroad to anyone!

Kjersti Rise, September, 2017









Funding available for international exchange!

27. November, 2017

Once more, we encourage you as a NORBIS member to spend part of your PhD period (at least 3-6 months) at an institution abroad, to benefit from international expertise and to expand your international network. We have funding available for such an exchange, and we now invite you to apply for financial support for your stay. Read more and apply here by 1st March!

Nine international travel grants awarded!

3. April, 2017

The first NORBIS international travel grants have now been awarded!

In this very first round of grant applications, the NORBIS board has decided to generously award a total of 450 000 NOK, to support the research exchange of nine NORBIS PhD students. Each student will receive funding corresponding to the newly established NORBIS international travel grant guidelines, which may be found here.

The nine successful student are as follows:

Name Institution Destination Department Duration
Francesco Delogu NMBU Braunschweig, Germany Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research 3 months, Summer-Fall 2017
Teshome Mulugeta NMBU Zaragoza, Spain Laboratory of Computational and Structural Biology 3 months, April-May and Aug-Oct 2017
Mahsa Jalili NTNU University of Aberdeen, UK Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences 3 months, Aug-Oct 2017
Kjersti Rise NTNU  University of Iceland, Reykjavik The Centre for System Biology 3 months, Apr-Jul 2017
Vasundra Touré NTNU Paris, France Institut Curie and ENS Paris 6 months, Sep 2017-Feb 2018
Miriam Gjerdevik UiB Newcastle University, UK Institute of Genetic Medicine 3 months, Sep-Dec 2017
Anna Frank UiO  Cornell University, New York, USA Department of Biological Statistics and Computationl Biology 6 months, Jan-Jun 2018
Aliaksandr Hubin UiO Medical University of Vienna, Austria Department of Medical Statistics 3 months, Sep-Dec 2017
Chloe B. Steen UiO Stanford University School of Medicine, San Fransisco, USA Department of Medicine and Stanford Cancer Institute  6 months, Aug 2017-Jan 2018


We wish you all good luck, and look forward to reading your reports when you return!

Funding available for international exchange!

6. December, 2016

NORBIS encourages you as a member to spend part of your PhD period (at least 3-6 months) at an institution abroad, to benefit from international expertise and to expand your international network. We have funding available for such an exchange, and we now invite you to apply for financial support for your stay. Read more and apply here by 15th February!

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