Biomedical Statistician - Dentistry

United Kingdom
£40,792 - £54,765
Aug 15, 2019
Sep 14, 2019
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
Position Details

School of Dentistry

College of Medical and Dental Sciences

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £40,792 to £48,677. With potential progression once in post to £54,765 a year

Fixed term for 24 Months

Closing Date: 12th September 2019

Job Purpose

This exciting new post is an innovation that has arisen through collaboration between the School of Dentistry within the Institute of Clinical Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences and University Hospital Birmingham Foundation Trust (UHBFT). The post encompasses 4 broad roles, providing a unique opportunity for an ambitious, energetic, innovative and visionary career grade researcher to develop their portfolio of activity and a track record in biostatistics, with a willingness to develop a special interest in basic bioinformatic analysis of complex biological datasets. The latter will be at a very basic level and in-house training provided, as the focus of this role is biostatistics. There will also be opportunities within this dynamic and supportive environment for short sabbatical periods of learning through collaborations both nationally and internationally. The successful applicant will also be expected to collaborate as a co-applicant to secure funding in projects arising from our joint cohorts in Dentistry and Medicine.

The 4 roles are:
  1. Biostatistical advice, planning, support and analysis for the Periodontal Research Group based at Birmingham Dental School/Hospital, in areas of cohort analysis with the Institute for Translational Medicine based at UHBFT, and with support from the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit (BCTU) - 60%
  2. Collaboration with bioinformaticians in analysis of complex biological datasets generated from human cohort studies is an opportunity. Vocational training will be provided in this important new area, including data visualisation, cluster analysis and downstream biostatistical analysis. Support will be provided from Biosciences in this area - 20%
  3. Biostatistical advice and support for staff involved in clinical trials research within the School of Dentistry and Dental Hospital - 10%
  4. Lectures/seminars on basic biostatistics and principles to undergraduate and postgraduate students, leading in the development and delivery of biostatistical training, learning and assessment for undergraduates and postgraduates within Dentistry. Co-supervision of PhD students will form part of this role - 10%

Job Context & Main Duties

This important post is based within the School of Dentistry, and offers unique opportunities to interact with biostatisticians within the Institutes of: Applied Health Research, Immunology & Immune Therapy, Inflammation & Ageing and Microbiology & infection (College of Medical & Dental Sciences). There will also be opportunities to collaborate with Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit (a UK CRC registered clinical trials unit of over 40 staff with specialist statistical, mathematical and computing expertise); mathematicians based in the School of Biosciences with expertise in bioinformatics and modelling of complex datasets; statisticians based at collaborating industrial partners (e.g. Unilever); and international collaborators (e.g. Boston University, USA). A focus is to support secondary data analysis for hypothesis generation and also a large prospective dataset that can be accessed through the Dental School's spinout company Oral Health Innovations. The academic leads are Professor's Chapple and Dietrich and Dr Sharma. There will be an emphasis on oral health analyses and outcomes from clinical and biological analyses; and to develop skills in the bioinformatics analysis of complex datasets in support of the two former activities. There will also be a modest teaching/training component to the post, in the form of seminars/lectures on basic statistical approaches and principals of study design.

Clinical Trials

The Periodontal Research Group (Prof Chapple) and Oral Surgery Research Group (Prof Thomas Dietrich) engage in investigator-led clinical trials, as well as a small amount of research contract activity. This provides opportunities for the successful applicant to holistically engage in studies from inception to completion and also to interact with colleagues from long-standing and fruitful industry collaborations and in Applied Health Research. Existing expertise exists through Prof Dietrich directly (Masters in Public Health, Harvard, Boston USA) his collaborators in Europe and the USA (Boston University USA), where collaborative access is available to unique and valuable medical databases from unique longitudinal studies. The latter provide a rich source of material for secondary data analysis aimed at hypothesis generation. The incumbent would also join the teams and benefit from publications and associated academic outputs and activities. The emphasis of the periodontal research group (led by Prof Chapple & Dr Grant) is to translate basic biological research into clinical studies and ultimately RCTs of products or diagnostics developed from their basic research. The latter have the potential to impact upon the health of millions of people worldwide through a number of significant collaborations with major industry & pharma.

Birmingham's Chronic Disease Resource Centre (CDRC)

The CDRC represents a truly unique and exciting opportunity for a visionary and ambitious biostatistician to impact at the highest level of medical research on existing joint periodontal-medical cohorts. The finding of common genetic predispositions and shared biological therapeutic strategies, such as anti TNF therapy for a range of chronic inflammatory diseases, has led to the development of a new approach to the management of patients in Birmingham; the Birmingham Chronic Disease Resource Centre (CDRC). Although there has been a healthy increase in the capacity of clinical research centres in the UK to deliver clinical trials, there remains a paucity of centres that systematically study well defined cohorts of patients. Well-characterised cohorts of patients have been recognised by the MRC as playing an important role in understanding the pathogenesis of disease as well as providing ready access to cohorts for intervention studies. The Birmingham CDRC and Institute for Translational Medicine (ITM), hosted by University Hospital Birmingham Foundation Trust (UHBFT), houses clinics in which cohorts of patients from different specialties can be studied using shared facilities, while at the same time providing resources for disease specific assessments. We have developed a cross disciplinary approach to inflammation with careful characterisation of cohorts of patients with arthritis, kidney, lung and endocrine disease to explore how pathology is manifested and differs across different organs and to explore cardiovascular, bone and periodontal co-morbidity. The CDRC and ITM provide shared technology, link laboratory and clinical data within primary and secondary care to clinical research data and is a real world approach to patients where chronic inflammation is treated in a holistic, unified manner. Periodontal disease is a co-morbid condition for cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive airways disease and diabetes, and is therefore embedded within the above cohorts in terms of clinical measurements (e.g. pulse wave velocity, MBI etc.) and biological samples (e.g. serum, saliva for various biomarkers). The index cohort for the CDRC is a chronic kidney disease (CKD) cohort, on whom periodontal measures and biological sample have been collected, and which is already generating exciting new data from the first 770 patients. Data from this longitudinal cohort, the largest of its kind in the world, would provide the applicant with a great resource in data to analyse using various statistical methods including regression analyses, time to event analyses, and joint modelling of longitudinal and time to event data. As well as working on data from existing cohorts, the successful applicant will also have input in the development of the other cohorts from inception. They will be expected to collaborate as a co-applicant in the securing of funding for research in these areas.

In addition, the spinout company Oral Health Innovations run general practice software called DEPPA) that is present within 800 dental practices and over 100,000 patients have been examined using this software. Interrogation of this dataset offers an exciting opportunity to understand disease risk factors and how these predict future oral and general health events. This area is a priority given funding received from OHI to support this post, and the longitudinal nature of this dataset.

Bioinformatics/Computational Biology

Omics technologies are generating complex data sets of biological (microbiomic, proteomic, metabolomic, genomic etc.) data matched to clinical data from patients involved in various cohorts and clinical studies. The field of integrating and interpreting such complex datasets is in its infancy, but crucial to the future of new discoveries in human health. The periodontal research group in collaboration with the School of Biosciences and with Industry Partners have a strong interest in developing computational biology / bioinformatics skills with the support of collaborators (Prof J B Cazier & Industry partners) with existing expertise in this emerging field. Basic scientists within the group have already started to interrogate and model initial datasets and training and sabbatical time will be offered to the post holder who we expect to have a strong interest in this area. Given the outputs from the CDRC and datasets generated from three large FP7 grants and from local clinical studies, rich datasets are being actively built that the post-holder will have access to. This represents a unique opportunity to develop a portfolio of expertise and a career specialising in what is becoming the most important challenge in medical research. This position is however not for a bioinformatician, it is for a biostatistician with an interest in engaging with bioinformatics as a basic level and collaborating with bioinformaticians.

Main Duties
  • Work on the DEPPA dataset with Prof's Chapple and Dietrich and Dr Sharma to elucidate associations between periodontal disease and dental caries, and to identify predictors of disease progression over time.
  • Provide statistical advice and/or analysis of data as part of the joint dental-medical cohorts of the CDRC/ITM, focussing upon oral health analyses in relation to measures of medical health in the different cohorts as they are set up and developed and to contribute to publications as required.
  • Develop analytical skills in the interpretation and management of complex datasets with support from senior colleagues and exiting staff in periodontal biological science.
  • Engage in existing collaborations, nationally and internationally in relation to the role of periodontal health upon general health and wellbeing.
  • Provide statistical advice on the design of clinical trials and contribute to protocols and grant applications, under the mentorship of Senior Statisticians within the College of Medical and Dental Sciences.
  • Determine appropriate analysis of clinical trial data and write statistical analysis plans for trials, under the mentorship of a Senior Statistician.
  • Provide support to Trial Coordinators in the running of trials and monitor data quality of on-going trials.
  • Undertake appropriate analysis of clinical trial data and prepare reports for Data Monitoring and Steering Committees and contribute to presentations and publications of clinical trial results.
  • Lecture on basic statistics and clinical trial methodology and provide in-house staff training.

Person Specification

  • Sound knowledge of the statistical techniques for analysing continuous and categorical data, including longitudinal, clustered and multilevel data).
  • Sound knowledge of statistical analysis languages like R, Python, and/or (preferably) STATA.
  • Knowledge of computer-based eCRF and database management and data extraction/ reporting techniques.

  • Strong statistical and computing skills.
  • Meticulous attention to detail and high levels of accuracy.
  • An ability to work well independently and as part of a team.
  • Good written and excellent verbal communication skills.
  • An aptitude for analysis which is real life and problem driven.
  • Interest in the application of statistical techniques to medical problems.
  • Willingness to learn new techniques, in particular data visualisation and computational biology.
  • Willingness to learn about oral diseases and their connections to general health
  • Potential to develop into a world-class biomedical statistician.

  • A first class or upper second class degree in mathematics, statistics, epidemiology or a related field with a significant component being medical statistics is essential.
  • A post-graduate qualification in statistics (ideally a PhD) or two years' experience in applied statistics, in a medical field.

  • Previous experience in study design, management and analysis of pragmatic clinical trials and large epidemiological datasets, with some experience of modelling.
  • Publications is high quality peer review journals, experience of peer review and grant writing/winning (desirable)

The University is committed to safeguarding and we promote safe recruitment practice, therefore all associated pre-employment checks will be undertaken before any appointment is confirmed.

Due to the nature of the work undertaken in this role all successful applicants will be subject to a satisfactory Occupational Health and/or DBS clearance prior to appointment.

We value diversity at The University of Birmingham and welcome applications from all sections of the community'

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