PhD Statistical and health-economic modeling to optimize cancer prevention

PhD Statistical and health-economic modeling to optimize cancer prevention

Published Deadline Location
11 Jan 1 Feb Amsterdam

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We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD student who will use Bayesian methods to estimate time to colorectal cancer (CRC) development in individuals with Lynch syndrome (LS), develop a Markov model to simulate the natural history of CRC and to identify ...

Job description

Individuals with LS have an increased risk to develop CRC due to a genetic mutation. To reduce this risk, they are currently recommended to undergo two-yearly colonoscopy surveillance. There is accumulating evidence that CRC risk depends on an individual's risk profile e.g. mutation type, age and sex. This suggests that surveillance can be optimized by switching from the current one-size-fits-all approach to risk-based surveillance strategies. As a PhD student, you will work on the Lynch project, led by Dr. Veerle Coupé, with the aim to optimize CRC surveillance in individuals with LS. To achieve this aim, you will compare a range of risk-based surveillance strategies by making model predictions of long-term benefits, harms and cost-effectiveness.

The first task in this project is to gain more insight in CRC risk in individuals with LS. To this end, you will estimate adenoma incidence and progression rates to CRC by applying a Bayesian three-state statistical model to data of individuals undergoing colonoscopy surveillance. In this dataset, there is information available on the timing and the yield of colonoscopy. Subsequently, you will develop a microsimulation model to simulate the natural history of CRC in LS individuals (task 2). This model will synthesize information from task 1, scientific literature and cost data. Using this model, you will assess how to optimize CRC surveillance by comparing a range of surveillance strategies in which the intensity of surveillance is based on an individual's risk (task 3). This project requires both mathematical-statistical skills to help with the model development (e.g. Markov and multi-state modelling), programming skills to implement ideas and conduct simulations, as well as interest in real-world applications.

About your role
As a PhD student, your main tasks are:
  • To apply a Bayesian three-state statistical model to surveillance data;
  • To develop a microsimulation model that simulates CRC development in LS individuals, programmed in e.g. C++ or Python;
  • To parametrize and validate the microsimulation model;
  • To evaluate risk-based surveillance strategies with the microsimulation model in order to optimize CRC surveillance in LS individuals in terms of health outcomes, costs and cost-effectiveness;
  • To publish your research findings in biomedical, health-economic, and/or epidemiological journals;
  • To write a PhD thesis for defense at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam;
  • To assist in teaching activities in biostatistics courses for medical students.


Amsterdam UMC


We are searching for an enthusiastic PhD student with the following expertise:
  • MSc degree in econometrics, applied mathematics, applied statistics, computational biology or related field;
  • Programming skills, preferably in C++ or python;
  • Good communication skills and the ability to work in a multi-disciplinary team of biostatisticians, epidemiologists, biologists, pathologists and gastroenterologists.

Conditions of employment

  • A contract for the duration of the project.
  • Salary range is 2789-3536 euro Gross in full-time employment. The monthly wage will increase yearly.
  • In addition to a good basic salary, you will receive, among other things, 8.3% year-end bonus and 8% vacation allowance.
  • Pension accrual with ABP, of which we pay 70% of the premium.
  • Reimbursement of 75% of your public transport costs. Would you rather travel by bike? Then we have a good bicycle scheme.
  • An active staff association and the Young Amsterdam UMC association, both of which organize fun (sports) activities and events.


Amsterdam UMC

The department of Epidemiology and Data Science at the Amsterdam University Medical Centers supports and initiates biomedical, epidemiological and biostatistical research. The department also coordinates the epidemiology and statistics courses for bachelor and master students. One of the main research topics at the department is disease modelling and health-economic evaluation of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Working at Amsterdam UMC means working in an inspiring and professional environment where developing one's talents and academic skills are encouraged. We offer you ample opportunity for development, deepening and broadening, additional training, and a place to grow!


  • PhD
  • Health
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • €2789—€3536 per month
  • University graduate
  • 7628



De Boelelaan 1117, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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