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Sylvia Richardson

President of the Royal Statistical Society & Director of the MRC Biostatistics Unit, University of Cambridge

Sylvia Richardson is director of the MRC Biostatistics Unit and holds the chair of Biostatistics at the University of Cambridge since 2012. Prior to this, Sylvia held the chair of biostatistics at Imperial College London from 2000, and was formerly Directeur de Recherches at the French National Institute for Medical Research INSERM, where she held research positions for 20 years.

Sylvia has worked extensively in many areas of biostatistics research for 40 years and made important contributions to the statistical modelling of complex biomedical data, in particular from a Bayesian perspective. Her work has contributed to progress in epidemiological understanding, and has covered spatial modelling and disease mapping, measurement error problems, mixture and clustering models, as well as integrative analysis of observational data from different sources. Her recent research has focused on modelling and analysis of large data problems such as those arising in genomics.

Sylvia is a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and of the International Society for Bayesian Analysis and was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2016. She received an honorary degree from the University of Oslo in 2017 and was awarded a CBE for her services to medical statistics in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List. She has also been awarded the RSS Guy Medal in Silver and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit award.

In 2020, Sylvia founded and currently co‐chairs the RSS Covid‐19 Task Force, which engages a network of RSS members. She has given evidence at UK parliamentary inquiries on ‘UK Science, Research and Technology Capability and Influence in Global Disease Outbreaks’ and ‘Data Transparency and Accountability: Covid-19’. Sylvia is also member of the International Best Practice Advisory Group, which advises the International Comparator Joint Unit, a joint analytical task force run by the Cabinet Office and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.


  • –present
    President of the Royal Statistical Society , University of Cambridge


  • 1978 
    Nottingham University , Statistics