New fellowship to improve clinical trials through novel use of statistics

Picture of Dr Pavel Mozgunov
Dr Pavel Mozgunov

A Lancaster researcher has been awarded a fellowship to develop new efficient ways of using statistics to improve clinical trials for patients in the UK.

Dr Pavel Mozgunov, Lecturer in Lancaster University’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is being supported with a five-year research fellowship by the National Institute for Health Research.

Before a medicine is approved for use, it has to undergo clinical trials to test whether it is safe and has a positive effect on patients’ health. This evaluation is a lengthy and expensive process, yet, many treatment developments fail late in the process having exposed participants to ineffective, or even harmful treatments.

Some of these failures can result from inaccurate decisions made at early stages of trial developments. A key way to reduce these risks are through quantitative, statistical approaches. These allow clinical researchers to make reliable decisions when dealing with uncertainties.

Dr Mozgunov will be developing novel statistical methods for so-called outcome-adjusted trials – these will allow the majority of participating patients to receive better-performing treatments.  

As a clinical trial progresses, these statistical methods will be able to identify which medicines lead to better patient responses and recommend them for future patients in the trial. As a result, patients are more likely to receive better medicine as the trial progresses. This has the potential to increase the benefits patients receive from taking part in clinical trials.

However, these kinds of trials are more complex to implement than many statistical methods currently used. They can also be associated with a number of logistical challenges.

Dr Mozgunov’s fellowship aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice by developing novel methods for clinical trials.

He said: “Outcome-adjusted methods can noticeably improve the benefits the patients get for participating in trials by having a higher chance of receiving a better treatment. However, many of them still to be used in UK trials due to a number complexities that have to be tackled which takes an enormous effort from both statisticians and clinicians. This fellowship is an exciting opportunity to fully devote my research to developing state of the art statistical methods, and to support their implementation in clinical trials around the UK to help deliver the benefits these methods offer to patients.”

In addition to developing the novel statistical methods the fellowship will develop training for patients, clinicians and researchers in clinical trials so these methods are applied in practice beyond the timeline of the fellowship.

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