Experimental Design

Experimental Design


Leuven, Park Inn Hotel

Start date:

17 May 2021


17 & 18 May 2021

General context

The mission of this course is to explain the underlying principles and concepts of experimental design what will allow the course takers to understand why well-designed experiments are more efficient. We will apply these concepts and use R tools to design or improve concrete and typical biotech research experiments.

We welcome experimental design questions from the audience.

Event intended for

Researchers with some experience in designing experiments, but that would like to better understand the statistical principles behind it with the aim to improve the relevance and efficiency of their experiments. 

Required skills

A basic knowledge of R is required to follow this course.

Extra information
  • This course if free for VIB participants
  • Non-VIB participants pay a fee of 100 euro
  • This course is not open for industry
  • Note that upon no-show without valid justification you will be blacklisted for the VIB training program for 1 year and a fee of €100 will be charged. Click here for more information


Joris De Wolf

Joris De Wolf has a long track record in biostatistics. He worked at Crop-Design, later BASF, as team leader of the biostatistics group. He was involved in the experimental design and start-up of the high-throughput phenotyping system TraitMill, design of the databases and streamlining of statistical analyses. Furthermore, he was research responsible for the field testing pipeline and statistics on transgenic yield improvement. In 2016, he joined GSK vaccines and currently he also works as a biostatistics consultant. 


DAY 1: 17 May 2021

  •  Introduction
  • Why do we do experiments?
    • Difference between experiments and observations
    • Causation and correlation        
  •  Think twice before you start: importance of careful design
    • Get the reseach question clear
    • Context and inference space
    • Desired and undesired sources of variability
    • Selecting the measurements
    • Plenty rough or a few accurate observations        
  • Important concepts:
    • Orthogonality
    • Randomization and blocking
    • Replication and power
    • Independence
    • Fixed and random effects        
  • First simple case: a design to determine a regression        
  • Power studies
    • Intro
    • Hands-on in R via traditional methods and via simulations
    • Apply it to the regression problem


 DAY 2: 18 May 2021

  • One-factor-at-a-time vs factorial designs
    • Interactions
    • Factor screening vs optimisation
    • Fractional designs (standard designs, optimal designs)
  • Finding good design and power study for factorial experiment with R
  • Randomisation schemes
    • Completely randomized design
    • Complete block design
    • Incomplete block design
    • Splitplot design
  • Case studies
    • Group discussion of existing case
    • Group work: design best experiment based on available material and info
  • Recapitulate
  • Closure

Practical info

Location & Venue

17 May 2021 - 18 May 2021

Park Inn by Radisson Leuven

Martelarenlaan 36
3010 Leuven

Public transport

17 May 2021 - 18 May 2021

Park Inn by Radisson Leuven
Public transport

The hotel is located 300m from Leuven Central Station. The hotel connects to Leuven Central Station by a pedestrian bridge.

Route description

17 May 2021 - 18 May 2021

Park Inn by Radisson Leuven

Park Inn hotel has no own parking. It is possible to park underground in P1-Parking Station Leuven, Martelarenlaan 4, 3010 Leuven.

Venue contact

17 May 2021 - 18 May 2021

Park Inn by Radisson Leuven
Location contact

+32 16 61 66 02