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Measuring the Value of Innovation in personalised cancer medicine

Measuring the Value of Innovation in personalised cancer medicine


Outline, including interdisciplinary dimension

Precise determination of the value of health care innovation is key to ensuring appropriate introduction of cost-effective approaches that improve outcomes for patients and deliver socio-economic benefit to societies. In cancer, the personalised’ precision medicine (PPM) approach has fuelled introduction of new medicines, companion diagnostics and prognostic/predictive tests which are starting to underpin new treatment options in this common disease. However, there is an increasing need to critically evaluate the cost/value rubicon, in order to provide a reliable evidence base to embed PPM into healthcare systems.

Recognising this challenge, researchers within the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences (specifically the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB), the Centre for Public Health and the School of Nursing and Midwifery) and the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (specifically Queen’s Management School) are working together to capture the value of PPM health innovation in a number of areas, including stratified and preventative cancer medicine. In the current project, the successful candidate will determine the value of the PPM approach in a number of relevant clinical settings.  Mixed method and econometric analysis will then be applied to “real-life” data to validate the best model(s) and develop a PPM value toolkit. This exciting joint initiative that straddles economics, health and genomic science provides an unrivalled opportunity for the student to undertake a premier quality PhD with significant inter-sectoral exposure, incorporating mobility between academic, industry and policy domains.

Emphasising both the interdisciplinary nature of the research and its international connectivity and relevance, collaborative partners from cancer policy, the biotech sector, the pharmaceutical industry, PPM policy and health economics are embedded in the project (see below), providing the breadth and depth of expertise necessary to provide a quality training programme for the student and generate high quality data.

Key words/descriptors

personalised and precision medicine, innovation, health economics, health policy

First supervisor

Professor Mark Lawler - School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences

Secondary supervisor from a complementary discipline

Dr Declan French - Queen's Business School

Additional QUB collaborators include Professor Frank Kee (Centre for Public Health (CPH) and Dr Anna Gavin (CPH and Northern Ireland Cancer Register and Centre for Public Health) and Dr Gillian Prue School of Nursing and Midwifery.

Supervisors’ track record of PhD completions, plus excellence and international standing in the project area

Prof Lawler is Chair in Translational Cancer Genomics in the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology and Dean of Education for the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). He has published over 170 papers in high impact international journals and received a number of prestigious national and international awards for his research. He has supervised over 40 students at MSc/MD/PhD levels. Mark is QUB Lead of a Stratified Medicine Colorectal Cancer Consortium that brings together the best of UK science to combat this common disease. Marks leadership in big data for better health and his recent Call to Action in the New England Journal of Medicine  highlights the need for global sharing of  genomic, epidemiological and clinical data for the benefit of patients. He presented his precision medicine blueprint and how it can contribute to global precision health during the United Nations (UN) General Assembly at the UN Building in New York in late 2016. 

Intersectoral exposure and/or international mobility

(e.g. secondments to/collaboration with partner organizations)

This project involves significant inter-sectoral exposure for the successful candidate. It is envisaged that the student will spend a period of study at the Institute of Cancer Policy, Kings College London under the direction of collaborator Prof Richard Sullivan to acquire a comprehensive skill set to determine the socio-economic benefits of PPM. Health economic analysis will also be performed in collaboration with Dr Jeff Hoch (Princess Margaret Hospital Toronto, Canada) who we have already collaborated with in a related project (Graham et al 2015). Outcomes analysis will be performed under the supervision of Dr Anna Gavin in the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry. An industry placement with Dr Linda Gibbs (Pfizer) will underpin assessment of the value of PPM particularly in Eastern European nations while interaction with Denis Horgan (European Alliance for Personalised Medicine, Brussels) will permit strategies to embed PPM into European healthcare systems to be investigated. Collaboration with the Association for British Pharmaceutical Industry will permit the research to be positioned in an industry perspective.

Describe briefly the international profile of the partner

Prof Richard Sullivan is an acknowledged international expert in cancer policy and cancer health economics and published a landmark paper on the economic cost of cancer in the premier cancer journal Lancet Oncology in 2013. The student will benefit significantly from a period of tutelage under Prof Sullivan at KCL.

Training that will be provided through the research project itself

The student will be exposed to a wide range of methodologies that will under pin his/her research project included Markov simulation, mixed method health services research, qualitative methodologies, econometric methods and exposure to significant expertise in different aspects of PPM.

Examples of additional training in non-research transferable skills

The student will be enrolled on the Doctoral Training Programme in Precision Cancer Medicine where he/she will gain expertise in aspects of translational cancer medicine. Additional training will be provided through participation in a newly established module as part of the Masters by Research in Translational Medicine developed by Prof Lawler and Dr French which provides training in business skills, leadership, commercialization and management skills. The student will also be enrolled in the TCD-UCD-QUB Innovation Academy.

Expected dissemination of results: peer-reviewed journals, seminars, workshop and conferences at European/international level

(e.g. public talks, visits to schools, open days, QUB impact showcase)

Results will be disseminated through high peer review papers with accompanying open access, policy oriented publications, presentation at major European and International cancer conferences.

Expected impact activities

(e.g. public talks, visits to schools, open days, QUB impact showcase)

CCRCB has a significant commitment to public engagement, with activities including open days, special teacher days, school laboratory days, school video competitions, science busking etc. Prof Lawler is a member of the CCRCB engagement committee and will ensure that research outputs from this project are embedded in all of the above described activities. Specific public engagement training is available and will be provided to the student.