SMU statistics Ph.D. student Yu Lan received the Dr. Thomas Chalmers Award May 9 in Liverpool, England, for a paper he wrote on a new, money-saving method for predicting clinical trial outcomes.
Lan, a student of SMU biostatistics program director Professor Daniel Heitjan, took a fresh look at data from the International Chronic Granulomatous Disease Study to develop his method of predicting clinical trial outcomes on the fly.
In clinical trials, it is common to conduct one or more interim analyses of the accumulating data, typically upon occurrence of pre-specified numbers of events such as heart attacks, strokes, hospitalizations or deaths. Traditionally researchers predict the timing of these events before launching their clinical trials and then hope for the best. When predictions are inaccurate – perhaps a trial is running its course faster or slower than expected – this can lead to a waste of resources.
Lan’s method allows companies to periodically update their predictions of when a trial has run its course and adjust their budgets and expectations accordingly.