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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Actuarial Profession announces three new mortality and morbidity research projects

The Actuarial Profession has announced that it will be funding three new research projects, which will examine mortality and morbidity. While increased longevity and health are welcome indicators of health and societal improvements, they present new challenges and mortality investigations is an area with considerable scope for interdisciplinary studies.

The Profession called for research proposals that would consider the following areas:
>> Understanding the drivers for change in mortality and longevity
>> How will successive cohorts differ and why?
>> How far can the approach to drilling down to individualised risk help in exploring the connections between populations and individuals, including the impact on mortality of biological and lifestyle risk factors, such as nutrition, exercise, and alcohol consumption?

The successful proposals were:
>> University of Southampton and Barnett Waddingham LLP — Bayesian Modelling of Mortality Projection Uncertainty
>> Heriot-Watt University — Mortality Models for Multiple Populations using Covariates
>> King’s College London — Genetic risk profi ling for common diseases.

Dr Gerard Kennedy ASA of the University of Southampton, professor Jon Forster, also of the University of Southampton, and Mr Neil Robjohns FIA of Barnett Waddingham LLP said: “Mortality projection is of vital importance to the actuarial profession, but is subject to uncertainty, and it is critical that such uncertainty be accurately quantified. Currently, uncertainty quantification, if performed at all, is done within the context of a single mortality projection model. However, there is no universally agreed such model, and fully coherent uncertainty quantification should also account for model uncertainty. Bayesian statistical methodology provides a fully coherent framework for estimation in the presence of model uncertainty, but practical implementation within the context of mortality projection is under-explored, and will form the main focus of our research.”

Dr Torsten Kleinow of Heriot-Watt University said: “Our project will develop new mortality models for multiple populations. These models will be based on covariates; in particular smoking prevalence. Our aims are to refi ne predictions of mortality rates, and explain differences between mortality rates for different cohorts and populations.”

Professor Cathryn Lewis of King’s College London said: “Genetic studies have identified genes contributing to the common, complex disorders that confer a major public health burden, such as heart disease and diabetes. This raises the prospect that individual-level genetic screening can be used to identify those at increased risk of such diseases, which will have implications for actuarial practice. This research proposal will develop statistical models for genetic risk profiling, providing a framework for investigating genetic risks at a population level.”