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Advancing the development of the DURATIONS design in practice

Institute of Clinical Trials and Methodology (ICTM)

Prof James Carpenter , Prof Max Parmar , Dr Matteo Quartagno Monday, May 17, 2021 Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
London United Kingdom Applied Mathematics Data Analysis Epidemiology Statistics

About the Project

What is the project?

In several therapeutic areas, it is important to identify the minimal effective duration of treatment, for a variety of reasons. For example, reducing antibiotics use might counter antimicrobial resistance. Reducing TB therapy might improve adherence. Reducing Hepatitis C treatment might limit costs and make it possible to treat more patients. It is important, though, that this is not done at the expense of treatment effectiveness.

The standard way to evaluate treatments in clinical research is to run randomised trials. The DURATIONS design is a recently developed trial design to optimise treatment duration. While classic 2-arm trials randomise patients to receive either the standard or an experimental treatment (duration), in order to compare them in terms of a primary outcome of interest, the DURATIONS design builds on two ideas: first, patients are randomised to multiple arms, generally corresponding to different durations or doses; second, the whole duration-response curve is modelled, by means of flexible regression methods.

The DURATIONS design is being implemented in a number of trials, both at the MRC-CTU and more broadly. As it is standard in the development of new statistical methods, each application opens up new questions and requires methodological work to adapt the novel method to the specific challenges faced. Hence, the main aim of this PhD project is to solve methodological issues around the DURATIONS design motivated by these applications.

Who are the ICTM and the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL?

The MRC CTU at UCL is at the forefront of resolving internationally important questions in infectious diseases and cancer, and delivering swifter and more effective translation of scientific research into patient benefits. It does this by carrying out challenging and innovative studies, and developing and implementing methodological advances in study design, conduct and analysis. You will be joining a team of renowned experts in the field of clinical trials.


Ideally, the candidate would be numerate with a strength for developing statistical methodology and an enthusiasm for applying those methods into practice, e.g. a degree in mathematics, (medical) statistics, epidemiology or a related quantitative field.

How to apply & Additional Information

Who are the supervisors? The supervisory team includes Professors James Carpenter and Max Parmar, and Dr Matteo Quartagno. You will also be supported by a Thesis Committee (TC), which will provide degree-spanning support and advice about academic and training progress for the successful candidate over the course of the Doctoral study.

When can I start? Successful candidates are expected to commence studies in October 2021

What funding is available? We have funding available for up to 3 full time studentships in line with the current UKRI PhD studentship level. Successful candidates will be eligible to receive the equivalent of (UK) student fees and stipend.

How do I apply? We would encourage you to speak to Dr Matteo Quartagno (email:  in the first instance for further information. Applications by CV and covering letter should be sent to 

Deadline for applications: 17 May 2021.

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