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Internal News - 30 May 2008

PhD student in Mathematical Sciences wins Student Scholarship Prize

Lisa Hampson, a PhD student in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, has been awarded the Thomas C. Chalmers Student Scholarship Prize at the 29th Annual Meeting of the Society for Clinical Trials in St Louis, Missouri.

Lisa was one of three students selected in the first stage of competition and funded to present a paper at this international meeting. Her conference paper on Group sequential tests when the primary endpoint is a delayed response was judged to be the best of these papers and won her the overall prize.

It is important to monitor clinical trials and analyse patient responses as they are observed. When there is strong evidence that a new treatment is effective and safe, investigators will wish to terminate a trial and proceed to the next stage of treatment development or registration. If results are poor, the trial may be abandoned as futile, saving resources and allowing attention to turn to the next promising treatment.

There are well developed statistical methods for monitoring trials when responses are available shortly after treatment. However, these methods tend to overlook the fact that at any interim analysis, there are subjects in the pipeline who have been treated but have not yet responded. Lisa has presented a formal framework which recognises this additional information will come in after recruitment to the trial is halted. The rules she derives for when to stop a trial are then the most efficient choices possible.

Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly aware of the need for careful planning of the sequence of trials that a new treatment must undergo. Realistic handling of delays in patient response will be a welcome addition to the statistical toolkit for monitoring a clinical trial. Lisa is looking forward to seeing other aspects of this complex process when she starts work for Pfizer, following completion of her PhD.

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