Biostatistics MPhil/PhD/MD

Major code: BAMR/BAPR/BAMD


About us

The Department of Biostatistics

The Department of Biostatistics is responsible for the development and delivery of the postgraduate statistics teaching programme for PhD students in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, a new research strand, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, in the MRes in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine Master Course, a new MSc in Clinical Research Administration in partnership with Laureate Online Education (http://www.liv.ac.uk/study/online/index) and a number of CPD courses that are designed to provide healthcare professionals with basic statistical research skills.

The Department of Biostatistics has expertise in methodological research and a track record of national and international collaboration in high quality research across a broad range of research interests:

  • Systematic reviews and meta-analysis
  • Clinical trials
  • Survival data analysis
  • Multivariate and multilevel data analysis
  • Methods for evaluating biomarkers
  • Analysis of laboratory-based data
  • Statistical pharmacogenetic
  • Joint modelling of longitudinal and time-to-event data
  • Stereological methods
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pharmacodynamics personalised dosing algorithms
  • Statistical performance monitoring
  • Quality of life data analysis
  • Statistical shape and image analysis

Institute of Translational Medicine

The Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM) (http://www.liv.ac.uk/translational-medicine) comprises the Departments of:

The overarching themes of Translational Medicine are:

  • Basic studies which define the biological effects of therapeutics in humans.
  • Non-human or non-clinical studies conducted with the intent to advance therapies to the clinic or develop principles for application of therapeutics to human disease.
  • Investigations in humans which define the biology of disease and provide the scientific foundation for the development of new or improved therapies for human disease.
  • Any clinical trial of a therapy that was initiated based on the above.
  • The biology-chemistry “bridge”.

Translational medicine is a two-way street from bedside to bench and back again and also from bench to bedside. This is because not all in vitro and in vivo models replicate human disease. It is only possible to translate high quality basic research. Therefore, it is vital that we have integration of clinical, whole animal and in vitro work. This must be underpinned by strong cellular, molecular and bioanalytical technologies alongside clinical networks. The integration of practical research with theoretical advances is being strengthened by advances in Computational and Systems Biology.

A primary aim of the Institute is to provide the necessary infrastructure, facilities, professional support and environment to foster collaborative research between basic science and clinical science postgraduates. The Institute of Translational Medicine will draw on the established expertise within each Department to foster, develop and enhance translational medicine work streams and projects throughout the Institute as a whole. The Institute has close links with the Institute of Learning and Teaching (ILT) and participates in both undergraduate and taught postgraduate teaching including CPDs.

The Institute runs a comprehensive Master in Biomedical Sciences and Translational Medicine (MRes) programme with ten research strands (pathways) covering all it core areas.

  • Biology of Cancer
  • Biomedical Imaging and Biosensing
  • Biostatistics (with Health Informatics)
  • Cancer Medicine
  • Cellular and Molecular Physiology
  • Drug Safety
  • Medical Sciences
  • Molecular and Clinical Gastroenterology
  • Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology
  • Nanomedicine
  • Neuroscience
  • Stem Cells, Tissues and Disease
  • Women’s, Children’s and Perinatal Health

All departments in the Institute of Translational Medicine also offer a comprehensive range of MD, MPhil, and PhD programmes both full time and part time in all their core areas (see for detailed programme codes and how to apply under the individual departments).

Teaching context

The Department of Biostatistics provides an umbrella for cross-disciplinary units and initiatives, including the Clinical Trials Research Centre (CTRC, http://www.ctrc.org.uk/) and the Medical Research Council North West Hub for Trials Methodology Research (NWHTMR, http://www.liv.ac.uk/nwhtmr/).

The Department of Biostatistics is currently involved in the supervision of several students whose projects cover a wide range of topics (involving statistical methodology and data analysis in the research areas listed above, and biomedical applications). The development of, and support for young researchers is a high priority in the Department.

Dr Jamie Kirkham

The University of Liverpool is a great place to work and study with a friendly academic community all striving to produce high qualitty research and outputs.

What do you consider a PG degree from your department has to offer and benefit a prospective student both within their academic discipline and outside? (For instance, what transferable skills are gained; what knowledge do you consider is applicable to other career paths)?

The Department of Biostatistics offers supervision to PhD students in a wide variety of research areas.  Particular areas of expertise include survival analysis, multilevel modelling, joint modelling of longitudinal and time to event data, statistical epidemiology, structural and functional imaging, meta-analysis, pharmacogenetics, statistical performance monitoring, randomised controlled trials and pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and personalised dosing algorithms.  

Please describe your research interests and any research projects you are involved with.

My research focuses on the application and development of statistical methods for evidence synthesis and meta-analysis.  My main methodological research interests include statistical models for multivariate meta-analysis of multiple outcomes and investigating and dealing with outcome reporting bias in review meta-analyses.  In 2010 I was awarded the Thomas Chalmers Prize for some of this methodological work at the Cochrane Colloquium.  I have a general interest in generating empirical evidence to inform the conduct of systematic reviews and my more recent research had led me to focus more on the reporting of harm outcomes in clinical studies. This interest follows my involvement with both the ORBIT (Outcome Reporting Bias in Trials) project and the ADRiC (Adverse Drug Reactions in Children) programme.     

What do you see as the significance and impact of your research within your own specialism and beyond (potentially to society at large)?  Do you consider your research to be ‘making a difference’ (improving lives, shaping policy, or expanding the boundaries of our knowledge and changing perceptions)?   

Yes definitely.  The majority of the work I am involved in is either methodological or applied with emphasis on defining, providing evidence for and developing preventative initiatives and statistical approaches for solving methodological issues within clinical research.  The aim is to disseminate our work through various knowledge exchange activities in order to ensure our work is put into policy and practice.  As an example, we have currently obtained cross Hub funding from the MRC Network of Hubs for Trials Methodology Research to produce a consolidating guideline for the prevention, detection and appraisal of reporting biases in clinical trials.   

Who funds or contributes funding to your research – is it a particularly prestigious or renowned organisation or business?  Does your research have commercial potential or application?

I have recently obtained some grant funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to investigate the problem of outcome reporting bias in harm outcomes.  The ADRiC programme for which I was working on as a research associate was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).  These are two of the main funding bodies we look towards to obtain funding for our research.       

Does pursuing your research involve travel to particularly interesting or prominent places?  Does it involve collaboration with particularly interesting or prominent institutions or organisations?

Absolutely.  Since joining the University of Liverpool I have attended at least one international conference per year as well being an invited speaker at institutes across the globe.  To date, my research has taken me from the ski resorts of Keystone, Colorado to the cosmopolitan and sophisticated city-state of Singapore.  I have also established collaborations with academics and health care professionals at other UK universities and institutes in Canada and Australia.   

Is there an academic route that they’ve usually taken before they apply for your programme(s)? 

We offer a variety of different PhD programmes in the Department of Biostatistics.  Most that apply to do statistics based methodological work will have obtained a good degree in a mathematical discipline and some will have also obtained an MSc in Statistics.  However the nature of some of the quantitative based PhD topics that we support or co-supervise means that some students can apply with a good degree in a health-based discipline.       

Could you please give an outline of the qualifications, experience, and any characteristics you seek in prospective postgraduate students? 

Pretty much as above.  We would also encourage prospective PhD students to help develop material and deliver our portfolio of teaching which we offer to health care professionals. 

What do you love most about the University of Liverpool?

The people that I work with at every level within the University, whether it be students, clinicians or Professors!  It’s a great place to work with a friendly academic community all striving to produce high quality research and outputs. 

Why should prospective students study a postgraduate qualification here?

The University of Liverpool is one of the original ‘redbrick’ universities in the UK with an excellent worldwide reputation for academic excellence.  Liverpool offers a high quality student experience with extremely good career prospects and employment rates following study completion.    

What are the benefits?

Following the completion of research degrees, many of our students go on to continue their career path as an academic researcher with many taking up research posts within the same department – once your here, you just don’t want to leave!

What does your department/subject, in particular, offer a prospective student?

I can answer this from a personal point of view.   Working in the Department of Biostatistics, you can gain a lot from the expertise and experience from other staff members and not just the senior members but also those that are more junior – everybody is willing to find the time to help each other.