NIHR Statistical Interns - Isabella Hatfield, Joshua Allen and Edward Pottrill

Over the summer, Isabella Hatfield worked as an NIHR Research Methods Intern for 8 weeks in the DTSPhoto Isabella Hatfield size 300
section of ScHARR under the supervision of Laura Flight and Professor Steven Julious

Isabella's project was to work with Munya Dimairo (NIHR Doctoral Fellow) with his research on the utility of adaptive designs in public funded clinical trials.  The project involved conducting an audit using clinicaltrials.gov website to extract nearly 200 adaptively designed trials, gathering information such as funder, disease area and type of adaptive adaptation.

The paper regarding the audit is hoping to be submitted for publication shortly.  Working at ScHARR has introduced Isabella to lots of aspects of being a medical statistician. She attended journal clubs, trial steering committees and individual meetings. 

Isabella stated that one of the highlights of the internship was getting the chance to go to the RSS conference 2014 in Sheffield, where she was able to attend many seminars on all di fferent aspects of statistics from medicine to sport.  The internship has con firmed Isabella's aspirations to become a medical statistician and she has since applied to four different universities for the MSc including Sheffield.

Joshua Allen worked as an NIHR Research Methods Intern for 8 weeks jointly supervised by Tracey Young (HEDS) and Mike Bradburn

The project involved a literature review of comparative studies undertaken in solid organ transplantation.  Transplantation is considered the treatment of choice for end stage organ disease, but its impact has never been quantified by randomised comparisons.  In a sense, the answer is straightforward: transplantation is the only therapy with curative potential in end stage disease, and is therefore beneficial.  But the extent of the benefit - in terms of additional years survived and the quality of life during those years - are unknown, as is its cost-effectiveness.

This work was initiated by Tracey's involvement with the CELT project (Cost effectiveness of liver transplantation; Department of Health, 2003).  Many observational studies have been undertaken to assess the impact of transplantation, and in the course of the project it became clear that many of these were limited, either by their methodology or reporting.  The review intends to summarise these findings, highlighting both good and bad practice together with recommendations.  Joshua's involvement was to update the literature search done during the CELT project, recording key details of the methods used in recent research. The placement gave Joshua the experience of working in an applied research environment, and the opportunity to observe other projects undertaken within ScHARR; in return, Joshua's work contributed enormously to the project.

Over the Summer Edward Pottrill received a Wellcome Trust vacation scholarship.  For 8 weeks he worked in the DTS section of ScHARR under the supervision of Professor Cindy Cooper and Amy Whitehead.  Edward expressed an interest in a career in medical statistics and saw this as an opportunity to experience what it is like to work as a statistician and to gain insight in to what kind of work is involved.

His project was to investigate whether pilot trials can really be used to predict the dropout rate in the subsequent randomised controlled trial (RCT).  This involved reviewing HTA monographs for RCTs between 1994 and 2013.  Of the 99 RCTs found, 17 had a pilot trial prior to the trial which met our eligibility criteria. He then went on to compare the dropout rates and the ratios of eligible to randomised participants in the pilot trial to those in the RCT.

The internship introduced Edward to the research environment and gave him the opportunity to observe other projects in the CTRU.  Edward said his favourite part of the experience was reading academic papers and clinical trial reports which he had never done before, independently learning about analysis methods not taught on his degree programme and meeting people at all stages of their careers.  This experience has made Edward want to pursue a career in medical statistics and he hopes to start an MSc Medical Statistics in September 2014.