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Dr Heather Whitaker

Profile summary

Professional biography

Heather Whitaker obtained her PhD in statistics and epidemiology from Imperial College London in 2002, spent several years as postdoctoral Research Fellow working with Paddy Farrington at the Open University where she was subsequently appointed to a permanent lectureship in Statistics. She was promoted to senior lecturer in 2015.


Research interests

She is a key contributor to several important methodological developments of the self-controlled case series method which have appeared in leading statistics journals. She has programmed the method in standard software packages and has popularized it in tutorial and review articles, and through the web. She has been involved in numerous collaborations with epidemiologists and biostatisticians to advise them on the use of the method.

Teaching interests

Heather has been involved in the teaching of most of the Open Universities statistics modules. She has chaired M346 Linear statistical modelling and M249 Practical modern statistics. She wrote the unit on testing new drugs and authored the iCMAs and practice quizzes in M140 Introducing statistics. She recorded screencasts for M347 Mathematical statistics and M248 Analysing data.

Heather is part of a European vaccine benefit-risk collaboration, ADVANCE.

She frequently gives advice on self-controlled case series studies.

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Medical Statistics Research GroupGroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology


Control Yourself: ISPE‐Sponsored Guidance in the Application of Self‐Controlled Study Designs in Pharmacoepidemiology (2021-05-02)
Cadarette, Suzanne M.; Maclure, Malcolm; Delaney, J. A. Chris; Whitaker, Heather; Hayes, Kaleen N.; Wang, Shirley V.; Tadrous, Mina; Gagne, Joshua J.; Consiglio, Giulia P. and Hallas, Jesper
Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 30(6) (pp. 671-684)

Assessing the impact of preventive mass vaccination campaigns on yellow fever outbreaks in Africa: A population-level self-controlled case series study. (2021)
Jean, Kévin; Raad, Hanaya; Gaythorpe, Katy A M; Hamlet, Arran; Mueller, Judith E; Hogan, Dan; Mengistu, Tewodaj; Whitaker, Heather J; Garske, Tini and Hocine, Mounia N
PLoS medicine, 18, Article e1003523(2)

Self-controlled case series methodology (2019-03-07)
Whitaker, Heather J. and Weldeselassie, Yonas Ghebremichael
Annual Review of Statistics and its Application, 6 (pp. 241-261)

The impact of opiate substitution treatment on mortality risk in drug addicts: a natural experiment study (2019-02)
Steer, Colin D.; Macleod, John; Tilling, Kate; Lim, Aaron G.; Marsden, John; Millar, Tim; Strang, John; Telfer, Maggie; Whitaker, Heather; Vickerman, Peter and Hickman, Matthew
Health Services and Delivery Research, 7(3)

Self-controlled case series studies: just how rare does a rare non-recurrent outcome need to be? (2018-11)
Whitaker, Heather J.; Steer, Colin D. and Farrington, C. Paddy
Biometrical Journal, 60(6) (pp. 1110-1120)

Quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccination in girls and the risk of autoimmune disorders: the Ontario Grade 8 HPV Vaccine Cohort Study (2018-05-28)
Liu, Erin Y.; Smith, Leah M.; Ellis, Anne K.; Whitaker, Heather; Law, Barbara; Kwong, Jeffrey C.; Farrington, Paddy and Lévesque, Linda E.
CMAJ, 190(21) (E648-E655)

Effectiveness of live attenuated influenza vaccine in preventing amoxicillin prescribing in preschool children: a self-controlled case series study (2018-03-01)
Hardelid, Pia; Ghebremichael-Weldeselassie, Yonas; Whitaker, Heather; Rait, Greta; Gilbert, Ruth and Petersen, Irene
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 73(3) (pp. 779-786)

Laboratory-confirmed respiratory infections as triggers for acute myocardial infarction and stroke: a self-controlled case series analysis of national linked datasets from Scotland (2018-03)
Warren-Gash, Charlotte; Blackburn, Ruth; Whitaker, Heather; McMenamin, Jim and Hayward, Andrew C.
European Respiratory Journal, 51, Article 1701794(3)

Investigating the assumptions of the self-controlled case series method. (2018-01-16)
Whitaker, Heather J; Ghebremichael-Weldeselassie, Yonas; Douglas, Ian J.; Smeeth, Liam and Farrington, C. Paddy
Statistics in Medicine, 37(4) (pp. 643-658)

Risk of Venous Thromboembolism Following Hemorrhagic Fever With Renal Syndrome: A Self-controlled Case Series Study (2018-01-06)
Connolly-Andersen, Anne-Marie; Whitaker, Heather; Klingström, Jonas and Ahlm, Clas
Clinical Infectious Diseases, 66(2) (pp. 268-273)

Thromboembolic and neurologic sequelae of discontinuation of an antihyperlipidemic drug during ongoing warfarin therapy (2017-12-21)
Leonard, Charles E.; Brensinger, Colleen M.; Bilker, Warren B.; Kimmel, Stephen E.; Whitaker, Heather J. and Hennessy, Sean
Scientific Reports, 7, Article 18037

Relative risk of hemorrhage during pregnancy in patients with brain arteriovenous malformations (2017-10-01)
van Beijnum, Janneke; Wilkinson, Tim; Whitaker, Heather J; van der Bom, Johanna G; Algra, Ale; Vandertop, W Peter; van den Berg, René; Brouwer, Patrick A; Rinkel, Gabriël Je; Kappelle, L Jaap; Al-Shahi Salman, Rustam and Klijn, Catharina Jm
International Journal of Stroke, 12(7) (pp. 741-747)

Self-controlled case series with multiple event types (2017-09)
Ghebremichael-Weldeselassie, Yonas; Whitaker, Heather J.; Douglas, Ian J.; Smeeth, Liam and Farrington, C. Paddy
Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, 113 (pp. 64-72)

Spline-based self-controlled case series method (2017-08-30)
Ghebremichael-Weldeselassie, Yonas; Whitaker, Heather J. and Farrington, C. Paddy
Statistics in Medicine, 36(19) (pp. 3022-3038)

Death following partner bereavement: A self-controlled case series analysis (2017-03-15)
King, Michael; Lodwick, Rebecca; Jones, Rebecca; Whitaker, Heather and Petersen, Irene
PLoS ONE, 12, Article e0173870(3)

Self-controlled case series methods: an alternative to standard epidemiological study designs (2016-09-12)
Petersen, Irene; Douglas, Ian and Whitaker, Heather
British Medical Journal, 354, Article i4515

Flexible modelling of vaccine effect in self-controlled case series models (2016-05-03)
Ghebremichael-Weldeselassie, Yonas; Whitaker, Heather J. and Farrington, C. Paddy
Biometrical Journal, 58(3) (pp. 607-622)

Self-controlled case series method with smooth age effect (2014-02)
Ghebremichael-Weldeselassie, Yonas; Whitaker, Heather J. and Farrington, C. Paddy
Statistics in Medicine, 33(4) (pp. 639-649)

Correlated infections: quantifying individual heterogeneity in the spread of infectious diseases (2013-03-01)
Farrington, Paddy; Whitaker, Heather; Unkel, Steffen and Pebody, Richard
American Journal of Epidemiology, 177(5) (pp. 474-486)

Influenza infection and risk of actue myocardial infarction in England and Wales: a CALIBER self-controlled case series study (2012)
Warren-Gash, Charlotte; Hayward, Andrew C.; Hemingway, Harry; Denaxas, Spiros; Thomas, Sara L.; Timmis, Adam D.; Whitaker, Heather and Smeeth, Liam
Journal of Infectious Diseases, 206(11) (pp. 1652-1659)

Self-controlled case series analysis with event-dependent observation periods (2011-06-01)
Farrington, Paddy; Anaya Izquierdo, Karim; Whitaker, Heather; Hocine, Mounia; Douglas, Ian and Smeeth, Liam
Journal of the American Statistical Association, 106(494) (pp. 417-426)

A modified self-controlled case series method to examine association between multidose vaccinations and death (2011-03-15)
Kuhnert, Ronny; Hecker, Hartmut; Poethko-Müller, Christina; Schlaud, Martin; Venneman, Mechtild; Whitaker, Heather J. and Farrington, C. Paddy
Statistics in Medicine, 30(6) (pp. 666-677)

Use of the self-controlled case series method in vaccine safety studies: review and recommendations for best practice (2011)
Weldeselassie, Yonas; Whitaker, Heather and Farrington, Paddy
Epidemiology and Infection, 139 (pp. 1805-1817)

Measures of disassortativeness and their application to directly transmitted infections (2009-07-01)
Farrington, C. P.; Whitaker, H. J.; Wallinga, J. and Manfredi, P.
Biometrical Journal, 51(3) (pp. 387-407)

The methodology of self-controlled case series studies (2009-02)
Whitaker, Heather J.; Hocine, Mounia N. and Farrington, C. Paddy
Statistical Methods in Medical Research, 18(1) (pp. 7-26)

Case series analysis for censored, perturbed, or curtailed post-event exposures (2009-01-01)
Farrington, C. Paddy; Whitaker, Heather J. and Hocine, Mounia N.
Biostatistics, 10(1) (pp. 3-16)

Self-controlled case series method: small sample performance (2008-01-10)
Musonda, Patrick; Hocine, Mounia N.; Whitaker, Heather J. and Farrington, C. Paddy
Computational Statistics and Data Analysis, 52(4) (pp. 1942-1957)

Editorial: The self controlled case series method - a way to study the relation between antipsychotics and stroke (2008)
Whitaker, Heather
British Medical Journal, 337, (a1069)

On case-crossover methods for environmental time series data (2007-03)
Whitaker, Heather J.; Hocine, Mounia N. and Farrington, C. Paddy
Environmetrics, 18(2) (pp. 157-171)

Hepatitis B vaccination and first central nervous system demyelinating events: Reanalysis of a case-control study using the self-controlled case series method (2007)
Hocine, M. N.; Farrington, C. P.; Touze, E.; Whitaker, H. J.; Fourrier, A.; Moreau, T. and Tubert-Bitter, P.
Vaccine, 25(31) (pp. 5938-5943)

Semiparametric analysis of case series data (2006-11)
Farrington, C.P. and Whitaker, H.J.
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series C (Applied Statistics), 55(5) (pp. 553-594)

Tutorial in biostatistics: The self-controlled case series method (2006-05-30)
Whitaker, Heather J.; Farrington, C. Paddy; Spiessens, Bart and Musonda, Patrick
Statistics in Medicine, 25(10) (pp. 1768-1797)

Sample sizes for self-controlled case series studies (2006)
Musonda, Patrick; Farrington, C. Paddy and Whitaker, Heather J.
Statistics in Medicine, 25(15) (pp. 2618-2631)

Does concurrent prescription of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs substantially increase the risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding? (2005-08)
Tata, L. J.; Fortun, P. J.; Hubbard, R. B.; Smeeth, L.; Hawkey, C. J.; Smith, C. J. P.; Whitaker, H. J.; Farrington, C. P.; Card, T. R. and West, J.
Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 22(3) (pp. 175-181)

Contact surface models for infectious diseases: estimation from serologic survey data (2005-06)
Farrington, C. Paddy and Whitaker, Heather J.
Journal of the American Statistical Association, 100(470) (pp. 370-379)

Relation of trihalomethane concentrations in public water supplies to stillbirth and birth weight in three water regions in England (2005)
Toledano, Mireille B.; Nieuwenhuijsen, Mark J.; Best, Nicky; Whitaker, Heather; Hambly, Peter; de Hoogh, Cornelis; Fawell, John; Jarup, Lars and Elliott, Paul
Environmental Health Perspectives, 113(2) (pp. 225-232)

Modelling exposure to disinfection by-products in drinking water for an epidemiological study of adverse birth outcomes (2005)
Whitaker, Heather; Best, Nicky; Nieuwenhuijsen, Mark J.; Wakefield, Jon; Fawell, John and Elliott, Paul
Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, 15(2) (pp. 138-146)

Infections with varying contact rates: application to Varicella (2004-09-01)
Whitaker, H. J. and Farrington, C. P.
Biometrics, 60(3) (pp. 615-623)

Estimation of infectious disease parameters from serological survey data: the impact of regular epidemics (2004-01-15)
Whitaker, H.J. and Farrington, C.P.
Statistics in Medicine, 23(15) (pp. 2429-2443)

Estimation of effective reproduction numbers for infectious diseases using serological survey data (2003-10-01)
Farrington, C. P. and Whitaker, H. J.
Biostatistics, 4(4) (pp. 621-632)

The relationship between water concentrations and individual uptake of chloroform: a simulation study (2003-05)
Whitaker, Heather J.; Nieuwenhuijsen, Mark J. and Best, Nicola G.
Environmental Health Perspectives, 111(5) (pp. 688-694)

Description of trihalomethane levels in three UK water suppliers (2003-01)
Whitaker, Heather; Nieuwenhuijsen, Mark J.; Best, Nicola; Fawell, John; Gowers, Alison and Elliott, Paul
Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology, 13(1) (pp. 17-23)

Self-Controlled Case Series Studies:A Modelling Guide with R (2018)
Farrington, Paddy; Whitaker, Heather and Weldeselassie, Yonas Ghebremichael
Chapman & Hall/CRC Press Biostatistics Series
ISBN : 978-1-4987-8159-6 | Publisher : CRC Press | Published : Boca Raton

Statistical issues in vaccine safety evaluation (2007)
Farrington, C Paddy; Whitaker, Heather and Hocine, Mounia
In: Ruggeri, Fabrizio; Kenett, Ron and Faltin, Frederick W eds. Encyclopedia of Statistics in Quality and Reliability (pp. 1888-1894)
ISBN : 978-0-470-01861-3 | Publisher : Wiley | Published : Hoboken, NJ

Case series analysis (2007)
Hocine, Mounia; Whitaker, Heather and Farrington, Paddy
In: Ruggeri, Fabrizio; Kenett, Ron and Faltin, Frederick W. eds. Encyclopedia of Statistics in Quality and Reliability (pp. 1783-1788)
ISBN : 978-0-470-01861-3 | Publisher : Wiley | Published : Chichester

Using active comparators in self‐controlled studies (2019-08)
Hallas, Jesper; Cadarette, Suzanne; Pratt, Nicole; Delaney, Joseph A.; Whitaker, Heather and Maclure, Malcolm
In : 35th International Conference on Pharmacoepidemiology & Therapeutic Risk Management (24-28 Aug, Philadelphia) (p 403)