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Target Trial Emulation: Using Observational Data to Determine What Works

Distinguished Speaker Series: A Seminar Taught by

Miguel Hernán

Monday, July 15, 2024


Schedule: All sessions are held live via Zoom. All times are ET (New York time).

1:00pm-4:00pm (convert to your local time)


This seminar will describe a framework for causal inference from real world data. The framework has two steps: 1) specification of the (hypothetical) target trial that would answer the causal question of interest, and 2) emulation of the target trial using the available data. The methods will be presented in the context of the evaluation of the comparative effectiveness of health interventions using databases of administrative and clinical data.

The seminar will consist of three hours of lecture. Each hour will include a mix of examples, methods, and discussion, including responding to your questions. The first hour introduces and motivates the advantages of the framework using well known examples from the clinical and epidemiological literature. The second hour describes the importance of the specification of treatment strategies and the determination of time zero of the target trial. Mishandling of time zero is arguably the primary reason why causal inferences from observational data are incorrect. The third hour gets into ”immortal time,” one of the most prevalent errors in the analysis of observational data, and explains how explicit target trial emulation ensures that it will not happen.

Who should attend: Researchers and decision makers interested in the use of real-world data to assess comparative effectiveness and safety. You should have working experience in the analysis of large databases in academic, industry, or other research settings, but especially in the health sciences. You should also have had prior introductory courses on study design and data analysis.

This Distinguished Speaker Series seminar will consist of three hours of lecture and Q&A, held live* via the free video-conferencing software Zoom.

*The video recording of the seminar will be made available to registrants within 24 hours and will be accessible for four weeks thereafter. That means that you can watch all of the class content and discussion even if you cannot participate synchronously.

Closed captioning is available for all live and recorded sessions. Live captions can be translated to a variety of languages including Spanish, Korean, and Italian. For more information, click here.

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