Protecting and improving health by leading research in advanced statistical techniques and clinical trials methods.

The increasingly large amount of healthcare data currently collected opens the door to exciting challenges and opportunities. The application of complex statistical approaches can be used to optimise the information available, with the primary goal of improving healthcare delivery processes and interventions in our community and beyond. We focus on the development and application of statistical techniques and clinical trials methodology to address a variety of healthcare problems.

 

Our challenges

Clinical Trials Methodology

Better care for people needs good quality research. We facilitate and accelerate the development of new and improved approaches for the design, conduct and analysis of clinical trials, particularly in methodologically challenging areas. This enables implementation of high quality and useful research to support better care.

Evidence Synthesis

Important decisions about health need evidence. We develop and use a range of evidence synthesis methods to bring evidence together in a robust and useful format. This enables healthcare professionals to deliver safe, effective care that is sustainable for the health system and makes better use of available evidence for more informed decisions reducing research waste.

Health Informatics

Electronic health data is the future of health research. The development, validation and application of better and more consistent ways to record, extract and analyse health outcomes is an essential pre-requisite for harnessing the potential of electronic health records and health-related datasets. We develop, share and use novel methodologies to enhance the way health outcomes are measured and used in clinical trials, disease registries, administrative datasets and electronic health records to support research, quality improvement and healthcare delivery.

Statistical Modelling

Reliable health-related outcomes require robust statistical methods. Emerging data collection protocols in clinical research introduce complexities, which are either not covered by existing generally available software, or more fundamentally, require further statistical methodological development. We have several inter-linked research groups with interests on methodologies and software of multivariate data modelling, joint longitudinal and event history modelling, statistical genetics and pharmacogenomics, prognostic modelling and causal analysis.

Research centres

Liverpool Clinical Trials Centre (LCTC)

The LCTC is a leading UK clinical trials unit and research group which works with the NHS and commercial partners, patients and the public to contribute to the identification and evaluation of new and innovative treatments and devices. We have particular expertise in personalised medicine, surgical interventions, and re-purposing of and establishing evidence for existing treatments used within the NHS. In partnership with other trials methodologists we contribute to the advancement of methods to improve the design and delivery of clinical trials. We support the development of increased capacity for conducting clinical trials locally and nationally by encouraging the development of clinicians, healthcare professionals, and trials methodologists as leaders in clinical trial research.

Liverpool Reviews and Implementation Group (LRiG)

The Group is expert in health economics, economic modelling, information retrieval, systematic reviews, statistics and research leadership. We provide independent assessments of clinical and cost effectiveness evidence that is used to develop National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) health technology appraisal (TA) guidance. Our work is at the core of evidence-informed guidance and is commissioned on behalf of NICE by NIHR Evidence Synthesis Programme.

 

 

 

Case studies

Informing clinical policy on epilepsy treatment

We have informed practice and policy worldwide in the management of patients presenting with newly diagnosed epilepsy, which has achieved international impact on health. Seizures are common and 3-5% of the population will be given a diagnosis of epilepsy during their lifetime. Decisions about when to start treatment, and if so with which drug are crucial and can have a significant effect on outcomes for the individual and have significant economic consequences for society. The research includes the undertaking and analysis of data from randomised controlled trials. The research identified the most appropriate first line treatments for patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy, addressing both clinical and cost effectiveness. This work has underpinned national policy and triggered the most recent update of the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) epilepsy guidelines in 2012.

HLA Alleles as Genetic Predictors for Drug-Induced Hypersensitivity Reactions

We have had health impact on immune-mediated drug hypersensitivity reactions, which can be severe and life-threatening. It has shown that predisposition to hypersensitivity reactions caused by abacavir, nevirapine, carbamazepine and flucloxacillin is due to specific HLA genes on chromosome 6. This has led to changes in the drug label and guidelines for abacavir, increased HLA-B*57:01 gene testing in the NHS through a University spin-out company, and a reduction in the incidence of hypersensitivity from 7% to less than 1%. The more recent demonstration of HLA-A*31:01 and predisposition to carbamazepine hypersensitivity, has led to drug label changes for carbamazepine.

Treatment Outcomes in Epilepsy

We have undertaken a programme of work assessing treatment outcomes associated with antiepileptic drug treatment in patients with epilepsy. This includes two large pragmatic trials in patients with first seizures and newly diagnosed epilepsy, and cohort studies assessing malformations and cognitive development in children exposed to antiepileptic drugs in utero, and the work of the Cochrane Epilepsy Group. This work has influenced prescribing in the UK and worldwide. In particular, it triggered NICE guidelines update (2012), underpins guidance on management of first seizures, new epilepsy, women with epilepsy, led to changes to drug labelling (SPC) for sodium valproate (2011), informed guidance in other countries (e.g. German guidelines, International League Against Epilepsy Guidelines; US Medicine guidelines), and underpins UK and EU policy on driving following first seizures and antiepileptic drug withdrawal.

Facilities

Consultancy Service

Professional advice to support health data science research. We offer a broad range of consultancy services including statistical advice, guidance regarding clinical trial design, funding proposal development, research design, economic evaluation and market access. We work with a range of individuals from NHS Trusts through to independent researchers and industry. If you would like support for your project please contact the Department.

Key Staff

Professor Marta Garcia Finana

Head of Department

Professor Catrin Tudur Smith

Research and Impact Lead

Dr Susanna Dodd

Education Lead

Dr Angela Boland

Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity and Women Lead

Dr Anna Auer-Fowler

Events and Forum Lead

Dr Laura Bonnett

Communication and Engagement Lead

Dr Girvan Burnside

PGR lead

Drs Angela Boland, Ruaraidh Hill and Michelle Maden – Doing a systematic review: top tips

Systematic reviews bring existing evidence together in a structured way to inform policy, practice questions or research methods. Here, Drs Angela Boland, Ruaraidh Hill and Michelle Maden showcase our successful book ‘Doing a systematic review: a student’s guide’ and share their top tips.

Slides for this video can be found here.

This session is part of our Researcher Know How series on doing a systematic review. The series reaches across the University to help students and staff to get started with a systematic review.

Accreditations and partnerships

The Cochrane Collaboration

The Cochrane Collaboration provides accessible, credible information to support informed decision-making to improve global health. Four of the Cochrane’s Editorial Bases are based in Liverpool – Cystic Fibrosis & Genetic Disorders, Epilepsy, Pregnancy & Childbirth, and Infectious Diseases. In addition, we have strong links with the Cochrane Collaboration through our roles as convenors and members of methods groups, as Cochrane review authors, editorial board members, and through providing statistical support for a variety of review groups.

World Health Organization (WHO)

The WHO leads and champions global efforts to give everyone, everywhere an equal chance to live a healthy life. We work closely with the WHO over a variety of projects across a diverse set of clinical areas. Examples include evaluating and developing treatments for people with tuberculosis, informing national policies to scale access to and adoption of clean household energy in Africa, and developing guidance on the marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

NICE aims to improve outcomes for people using the NHS and other public health and social care services by producing evidence-based guidance and advice for health, public health and social care practitioners, developing quality standards and performance metrics for those providing and commissioning health, public health and social care services, and providing a range of information services for commissioners, practitioners and managers across health and social care. We are regularly commissioned by NICE to provide evidence to support policy.

National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast (ARC-NWC)

The ARC-NWC aims to improve outcomes for patients and the public, improve the quality, delivery and efficiency of health and care services, and increase the sustainability of the health and care system both locally and nationally. Poor integration of data sources, infrastructure and data scientists has impeded effective research and implementation in the North West Coast region. Our partnership with the ARC-NWC helps to unlock this potential by bringing people and data together on infrastructure tailored to meet the needs of modern data usage.

Courses and Workshops

Courses and Workshops

A wide selection of courses and workshops are delivered by the Department of Health Data Science. From day workshops to 3 day events or longer, these will introduce delegates to the fundamentals of Health Data Science covering topics such as identifying issues in the design of projects, various types of analysis, and how to use R software.