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Developing, evaluating and applying methods for robustly handling dropout in cohort studies

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, November 25, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The project:
Cohort studies, (e.g., UK Biobank) are used to inform about clinical practice but face problems of missing data arising through non-response and dropout. The subsequent loss of information can undermine the validity of research results (i.e., biased analyses and loss of power). Data are classified as missing not at random (MNAR) when the observed data cannot explain all systematic differences between the observed and missing data. This MNAR property cannot be tested based on the observed data only but is a plausible scenario for many studies. Commonly used statistical methods are usually not applicable when data are MNAR.

Developing methods that allow for MNAR is a growing research area, especially methods that non-technical analysts (such as medical researchers and epidemiologists) can easily use. This PhD will use the latest research in Bayesian sensitivity analysis methods and instrumental variables for missingness to develop two distinct methods for analysing MNAR data. These methods will be developed in the context of missingness and dropout from UK Biobank and ALSPAC (the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children), taking advantage of linkage to routine data (from GP records and education) to provide some information about the missing data.

This PhD will make a major contribution by developing methods that will be of great relevance to all studies with incomplete data, especially much used resources such as UK Biobank. The MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit provides a stimulating and supportive environment for PhD students in which to undertake world-class research.

Full project details can be found on our ‘view postgraduate research projects’ section here:

How to apply

You can apply for the studentship through the MRC GW4 BioMed DTP web site ( before 5pm on Monday 25th November 2019.

Candidate requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) and / or with a research master’s degree in a relevant discipline).

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded through GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership. It consists of full UK/EU tuition fees, as well as a Doctoral Stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£15,009. for 2019/20, updated each year) for 3.5 years.

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