Person Details

Associate Professor Leigh Blizzard
Email Address
(03) 6226 7719
0439 336 699
Principal Research Fellow and Senior Biostatistician
Associate Professor Leigh Blizzard is the senior biostatistician at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, where he is a Senior Member. He has expertise and rich experience in the practice of biostatistics, and skills in designing and developing analytical strategies for health research projects. The small size of the research group in the early days of the Institute provided an unparalleled opportunity for him to take hands-on responsibility for the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of internationally-recognised research in sudden infant death syndrome (published in JAMA), early life determinants of disease (BMJ, The Lancet, Circulation), multiple sclerosis (BMJ) and musculoskeletal conditions (Arthritis and Rheumatism). Since completing his PhD in 2000, Leigh has built statistical capacity at the Institute to 7 positions and, in statistical research, has contributed to developments in log-link modelling of binary, multinomial and ordinal outcomes to provide estimates of risk ratios in follow-up and cross-sectional studies. Recently he has established a statistical research program in assessment of goodness-of-fit of log-link models in collaboration with Professor David Hosmer, a noted international authority. The significance of his research in statistical methods has been recognized with a NHMRC Project Grant, a Population Health Career Development Award and a Career Development Fellowship.

Grants and fellowships (as at 10/03/2015)
Leigh has a record of sustained success in competitive grants as a CI with $20,558,641 gained ($9,472,790 last 5 years), and with substantial contributions in respect of study design and analytical strategy to other successful applications (on which he was not listed as a CI due to NHMRC rules) totalling more than $5 million, and with less substantial contributions to other applications providing many millions more.

Publications (as at 10/03/2015)
Leigh has produced more than 220 research publications. They include 178 papers published in peer-reviewed journals (91 during the past 5 years, 25 as senior author), of which almost all (167) were in international journals, and most (121) were in journals with impact factors exceeding 3.0. They have been cited 4099 times (Scopus), providing Leigh with an h-index of 36. Leigh has produced 19 other journal contributions, two book chapters and 30 reports. A full list of publications including career-best publications can be viewed here.

Contribution to field of research
The wide range of Leigh's contributions in guiding epidemiological research (see publications), encompassing all research designs and many different forms of analysis, attests to his leadership and research impact. Following research he supervised into falls by thoroughbred racing jockeys, the Australian Racing Board has implemented several changes. Leadership by a statistician is judged also by their influence in helping others to apply existing statistical methodology, and in developing or adapting statistical methodology where existing approaches are limited or circumscribed. Leigh has developed statistical methodology for the estimation of relative risk in cohort studies and for the assessment of the goodness-of-fit of the models used to estimate relative risk. Vindicating that work, which is of international significance, the editors of the American Journal of Epidemiology now recommend use of log binomial regression in the analysis of binary follow-up data.
Research Interests
Leigh's expertise is based on practical experience in the conduct of high-quality epidemiological studies. He has been personally responsible for ecological and cross-sectional studies, case-control studies, cohort study follow-ups, data linkage studies, and family and genetic studies of brain and lung cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer, and stroke. Additionally, he has supervised or guided studies of adolescent self-harm, alcohol consumption, bicycle injuries, cardio-metabolic risk factors, diet, disorders of cognition and gait, eating behaviours, economic cost (direct and indirect), geographic distribution of health, headaches of cervical origin, hypertension, iodine deficiency, immunization, falls by thoroughbred jockeys, falls by older adults, musculoskeletal conditions, physical activity, quality of life, renal disease, respiratory conditions (including a RCT published in the BMJ), tobacco smoking, urinary incontinence, vascular health, vitamin D and youth suicide.

Student opportunities for postgraduate study
Opportunities are available for appropriately qualified students in projects ranging from Honours to PhD level. Some of them are listed here. Please contact if you are a prospective student and interested in finding out more.

Supervision and mentoring
The quantum and range of co-contributors to his publications demonstrate the leadership role that Leigh takes in research training and mentoring of young researchers that has made a substantial contribution to the 6-fold growth since 2000 of research conducted at the Institute. As a CI on the NHMRC Capacity Building in Public Health Grant, he provided mentoring to all named postdoctoral fellow. By the end of the grant, 11 postdoctoral fellows were authors on 96 journal articles, five had been awarded postdoctoral fellowships, and all were investigators on new grants. Leigh has provided strategic analytical guidance to 6 other postdoctoral researchers who have reached level E positions and statistical support and early-career mentoring for 6 other postdoctoral researchers. He has supervised five completed PhD candidates (with 27 published papers from their theses) and is supervising three PhD candidates-in-progress (four published papers to date). He provides co-supervision for 9 other PhD candidates, and statistical support and mentoring for many others at the Institute.