Survival Analysis

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Postgraduate course - Survival Analysis

Wednesday 10 & Thursday 11 April 2019


survival_analysis.pngSurvival analysis was originally developed in medical statistics, to analyse the effects of covariates on survival times (hence its name). The purpose of such analyses is for instance to find out whether certain treatments reduce the incidence of death. The methods are especially designed to take so-called “censored data” into account, when death occurs due to other causes than the studied disease or patients survive until the end of the study.
Techniques from survival analysis can be applied in a variety of biological contexts, whenever data consist of time until occurrence of a certain event. Examples are many types of behavioural data, times until recapture, and latency data. In the figure below we give an example on migration of caterpillars. At the start of the observation, there are two caterpillars present on a plant. Their migration times can be studied with survival analysis. In the example, one of the two caterpillars leaves during the observation period. This corresponds to an observed “failure” time. The other caterpillar stays on the plant during the whole observation period. This results in a so-called “censored” observation: the time at which this individual leaves the plant is longer than 5 weeks after the start of the observation. Note that we cannot simply disregard this observation, since it contains information about the caterpillar’s migration tendency. Using survival analysis, this information is taken into account in a statistically correct way.

survival_analysis2.pngAnother example would be the removal of seeds by Acouchies, a rodent from the tropics. At the start of the observation, there are 25 seeds present in the plot. The seeds are checked daily to check whether they are taken by seed predators. After a week the experimenter is not going to check the plot. Removal times can be studied with survival analysis. In this example, 5 seeds were still present after a week and these thus have “censored” removal times of 7 days: the time at which these seeds will be taken is longer than 7 days after the start of the observation. It should be noted that this observation cannot simply be disregarded, because it contains information about the seed removal tendency. Using survival analysis, this information is taken into account in a statistically correct way.

The course consists of one full day during which we will introduce the concept of survival analysis and show how to apply the methods to biological data and a half day in which participants can analyse their own data. Main subjects are how to handle censored data, estimation of Kaplan-Meier survivor curves, the Log-Rank test for testing differences between survival times, and Cox' regression model for estimating and testing effects of covariates. Lectures will be alternated with time for practice, where participants apply the methods with either SAS or R.

We advise participants to buy or borrow the book “Survival Analysis: A Self-Learning Text, Third Edition (Statistics for Biology and Health) (2012)" by David G. Kleinbaum and Mitchel Klein.
Note: as this is a Springer book, people with full access to the Wageningen University library can download the e-version of this book for free ( For all others, the price for a hardcopy version is approximately € 99,-, and € 75,- for the e-book (but use your network of WUR people to borrow it in this case!).


DAY 1:
09:30 - Start with coffee
09:45 - Introduction to the course, the teachers and the participants
10:00 - Lecture 1: Introduction to survival analysis
10:45 - Short introduction to R and some exercises on the computer
11:30 - Lecture 2: Survivor functions: estimation and tests
12:00 - Computer practical for lectures 1 and 2

13:00 - Lunch

14:00 - Lecture 3: Cox’ regression model with one or more covariates
15:00 - Coffee / Tea
15:15 - Computer practical for lecture 3
16:00 - Lecture 4: Proportionality assumption and stratification
16:30 - Computer practical for lecture 4
17:00 - Lecture 5: An overview of possible extensions
17:30 - End

DAY 2:
09:00 - Presentation of plan of analysis by participants (each 5 minutes)
09:45 - Coffee / Tea
10:00 - Working on projects including practical for lectures 4 and 5
12:45 - Results of the analysis of projects of participants + evaluation
13:15 - Lunch and end of course

General information
Target Group The course is aimed at PhD candidates and other academics
Group Size Min. 10, max. 24 participants
Course duration 1.5 days
Language of instruction English
Frequency of recurrence Once every two or three years
Number of credits 0.5 ECTS
Lecturers Dr. Lia Hemerik (Biometris, Wageningen University) and Prof.Dr. Hendriek Boshuizen (RIVM / Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University)
Prior knowledge Basic statistical knowledge is required.
Location Wageningen University Campus
Options for accommodation Accommodation is not included in the fee of the course, but there are several possibilities in Wageningen. For information on B&B's and hotels in Wageningen please visit Another option is Short Stay Wageningen. Furthermore Airbnb offers several rooms in the area. Note that besides the restaurants in Wageningen, there are also options to have dinner at Wageningen Campus.


Fees 1
PE&RC / SENSE / WASS PhD candidates with an approved TSP € 145,- € 195,-
a) All other PhD candidates
b) Postdocs and staff of the above mentioned Graduate Schools
€ 330,- € 380,-
All others € 475,- € 525,-

1 The course fee includes a reader, coffee/tea, lunches, and a dinner on the first day. It does not include accommodation (NB: options for accommodation are given above)
2 The Early-Bird Fee applies to anyone who REGISTERS ON OR BEFORE 13 MARCH 2019


  • If you need an invoice to complete your payment, please send an email to, including ALL relevant details that should be mentioned on the invoice (e.g., purchase order no., specific addresses, attendees, etc.).
  • The Early-Bird policy is such that the moment of REGISTRATION (and not payment) is leading for determining the fee that applies to you.
  • Please make sure that your payment is arranged within two weeks after your registration.
  • It is the participant's responsibility to make sure that he/she (or his/her secretary) completes the payment correctly and in time.
PE&RC Cancellation Conditions
  • Up to 4 (four) weeks prior to the start of the course, cancellation is free of charge.
  • Up to 2 (two) weeks prior to the start of the course, a fee of € 145,- will be charged.
  • In case of cancellation within two weeks prior to the start of the course, a fee of € 330,- will be charged.
  • If you do not show at all, a fee of € 475,- will nevertheless be charged.

Note: If you would like to cancel your registration, ALWAYS inform us and do not assume that by NOT paying the participation fee, your registration is automatically cancelled, because it isn't (and do note that you will be kept to the cancellation conditions).

More information

Dr. Lia Hemerik
Phone: +31 (0) 317 482083

Dr. Lennart Suselbeek (PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 485426


To register, please enter your details below and click "Register".