Can't See the Woods from the Trees? Making Sense of the Data During a Global Pandemic

PHASTAR’s Head of Statistical Research and Consultancy, Professor Jennifer Rogers, was recently announced as the winner of the annual HealthWatch Award for 2020. For her acceptance speech, Jen grappled with the COVID-19 statistics that we have been seeing since the start of the pandemic, trying to make sense of messy data and calling into question some of the more dubious claims that have been made.

I’ve always felt that public engagement is an important part of my career and I have strived to be an ambassador in my field, bringing statistics to the masses. This isn’t just because I am passionate about statistics, but also because I feel it’s important that the general public have a basic understanding of statistical concepts. Every single day, we are bombarded with news headlines telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing and we are expected to use these sometimes-shocking headlines to inform decisions on how to live our everyday lives. Sometimes, these headlines can be misleading, and often our own personal experiences can skew our interpretation, so I feel that it is essential to give people the tools they need to ask the right questions of the data that they see, so that they can make informed evidence-based decisions.

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A day in the life of a Data Scientist

PHASTAR doesn’t just do clinical trial reporting - currently I'm contracting with another company as a Data Scientist. Working at PHASTAR offers me the opportunity to work on new and interesting projects - all the experience with clinical data and the knowledge of quality control I’ve learned over my time here has allowed me to branch out to a project where I get the freedom to explore the data as I see fit.   

9:00am 

We are mid-sprint, so everyone has their tasks assigned and we continue working through them. I check my emails in case anything has changed but otherwise I can continue where I left off yesterday. 

I like to have a fresh coffee in hand as I start working, although I have been known to accidentally leave it brewing for upwards of half an hour while getting caught up in my work. Thankfully today is not one of those days and I can start converting the caffeine into code!

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Recent Contributions to PhUSE Support Material for Data Scientists During COVID-19

PHASTAR has recently contributed to an industry collaboration led by PhUSE to create two white papers to support data scientists during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first white paper covered the impact of the pandemic on clinical trials data in studies in a variety of diseases, whilst the second related to issues arising when carrying out clinical trials where the disease was the COVID-19 virus. In the second paper, issues such as data collection, analysis and sharing are discussed alongside commentary on the regulatory background.

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'Heard' Immunity?

Amateur voices

The coronavirus crisis has been a humbling experience. To accompany the pandemic, we have had an epidemic of statistics. If I thought that after 45 years working as a medical statistician, with more than 30 years working on clinical trials, I had what it took to make sense of them all, I have been disabused: testing, diagnosis and infectious disease modelling are matters in which I have only ever had occasional involvement. Even in clinical trials, there are huge gaps in my experience. I have mainly dealt with therapeutic trials, rarely with prevention trials and never with vaccines. The reader is warned that mine is an amateur opinion.

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Medidata Migration

A biotechnology company, developing a novel paediatric gene therapy to treat a rare genetic immunodeficiency that keeps a child's immune system from functioning properly, made the bold decision to move an ongoing Phase III study away from a large full-service provider CRO who were delivering a less than optimal service.

As PHASTAR is a long-standing partner to this biotech company, providing for both data management and statistical services, the company made the decision to move the data management aspect of thise study from the full-service CRO to PHASTAR. The study was already actively recruiting, and subjects had already been treated and passed their year 1one visit with, their data being collected in Medidata RAVE.

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