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PhD in Biostatistics – Statistical Methodology for Phase II Oncology Trials

Project Description

Number of awards


Start date and duration

September 2020. The funding covers a three year PhD.

Application closing date

11 December 2019


In recent years, the high failure rate of phase III oncology trials has led to increased exploration of alternative designs for early phase oncology trials, aiming to better prioritise treatments for further study [1]. Our group has worked on several problems relating to phase II oncology trials (e.g., [2,3]). This project will focus on further developing methods for such trials. It will involve:

1) Extending methods for transition designs that efficiently switch between non-randomised and randomised comparisons.

2) Developing methods for small-sample group-sequential trials that can be applied when the different stages use different endpoints (e.g., binary and time-to-event).

3) Proposing new methods for randomised selection designs, to improve their ability to recommend the best of several experimental treatments.

The student will be based within a supportive and dynamic environment where methodological development, the creation of user-friendly software, and statistical leadership of real clinical trials is valued. Required training on relevant statistical methods, statistical programming, and clinical trials will be provided.


Newcastle University, Faculty of Medical Sciences

Name of supervisor(s)

Dr Michael Grayling, Population Health Sciences Institute https://bit.ly/3487FSP

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must have at least a 2:1 degree in a discipline relevant to the study and (by the time of starting the PhD) a master’s degree in statistics or a subject with a substantial statistics component, at Merit level or equivalent, or equivalent research training and experience.

If English is not your first language, you must have an overall IELTS of more than 6.5 with no component less than 5.5, or equivalent.

The award provides full funding of fees and stipend to UK/EU applicants. Non-EU international applicants would have to cover additional international student fees. See our Newcastle University Overseas Research Scholarship (NUORS) for more information https://bit.ly/2Xy81j6

How to apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system

Only mandatory fields need to be completed. However, you will need to include the following information:
•click on programme of study
•insert the programme code 8300F in the programme of study section and click search
•select programme name ’PhD in the Faculty of Medical Sciences(full time) - Health Sciences’
•insert the studentship code ph001 in the studentship/partnership reference field
•attach a covering letter and CV no more than two pages for each. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote the studentship reference code ph001 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
•attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.


For further details, please contact: Professor James Wason,

Funding Notes

100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and annual living expenses of £15,009 (subject to review, in line with UKRI rates).


1. Grayling MJ et al (2019) A review of perspectives on the use of randomization in phase II oncology trials. JNCI: J Natl Cancer Inst djz126.
2. Wason JM, Mander AP (2015) The choice of test in phase II cancer trials assessing continuous tumour shrinkage when complete responses are expected. Stat Meth Med Res 24:909-19.
3. Grayling MJ, Mander AP (2016) Do single-arm trials have a role in drug development plans incorporating randomised trials? Pharm Stat 15:143-151.

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