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Vacancy: PhD position on predicting Covid-19 prognosis among elderly

This vacancy has been advertised by UMC Utrecht.  width=

What is needed to better predict prognosis among elderly during outbreaks such as covid-19? What can covid-19 prediction models teach us about prognostic model development, validation, and implementation? We are looking for a motivated PhD student to help us answer these questions.

Job description
During the covid-19 pandemic outbreak myriad prediction models have been developed to predict the prognosis of patients in various health care settings. Despite laudable efforts made to study covid-19 prognosis, most of the prognostic prediction models that were derived during the first year after the outbreak onset were developed using sub-optimal methods, as was found in a living systematic review by an international consortium that was led by our research group. Evidence on the prognosis of covid-19 in elderly, a particularly vulnerable group, remains limited.

How can we do better at predicting patient prognosis in older people during future covid outbreaks or for diseases that are similar to covid-19?

This question will be addressed during your PhD trajectory as part of a large national collaboration: the Covid-19 Outcomes in Older People (COOP) study. The COOP study aims to improve clinical decision-making regarding referral and treatment in older patients with COVID-19 via improved prediction and biological understanding of individual disease course and treatment outcomes. The COOP consortium collected data on elderly covid-19 patients in various hospitals, primary care centers, and nursing homes throughout the Netherlands during the first and second covid waves. We will evaluate the quality of the prognostic prediction models derived during the outbreak by validating their performance in this population. Your interest (and possibly existing skills) in prediction modelling will be of vital importance.

We will address one of the sub-aims of the COOP study by investigating the (incremental) predictive value of the Clinical Frailty Scale and other frailty markers of the relevant outcomes in older patients with COVID-19. This investigation contains opportunities for in-depth studies from both a clinical and a methodological perspective. There is a clear clinical need to define the role of frailty more specifically and further understand its prognostic value in covid-19 outcomes among elderly. Deriving and validating prediction models in such a way that they can provide valid predictions despite changing pandemic measures, such as vaccination, poses many methodological challenges.

The first two years of your PhD position will focus on planned activities for the COOP study. This leaves room to investigate a topic of your own interest in the final year of your PhD. You will be part of a multidisciplinary team, attend weekly meetings, share your research findings during presentations at these weekly meetings as well as (international) conferences, and contribute to epidemiology education for (medicine) students.

We are looking for a candidate that is motivated to broaden their clinical and methodological understanding of prediction of covid-19 amongst elderly and to deploy or acquire the academic skills necessary to achieve this. To excel in this role, you will draw on:

  • A master’s degree in medicine, (bio-)statistics, (clinical) epidemiology, health economics, biomedical science, health science, data science, or another master’s that provides relevant background for this position;
  • your enthusiasm for clinical research and the way it is conducted;
  • your interest in the opportunities a PhD-trajectory can offer in terms of personal development;
  • your collaborative spirit and drive to communicate research findings to colleagues and collaborators.

Conditions of employment
The salary for this position (36 hours) amounts to a maximum of € 3,196.00 gross per month based on a full-time employment contract.

Our terms of employment are in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for University Medical Centers (UMC). We offer, among other things, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, holiday allowance, a commuting allowance and various training options. View our
terms of employment and various extras

In this position you will be supervised at the Epidemiology department as part of the Methods of Epidemiological Research and Cochrane Netherlands team, in the Julius Center of the UMC Utrecht. Our group evaluates and develops new research methods for clinical prediction modelling and intervention research. You will be part of an energetic, enthusiastic team of more than 40 PhD students from different backgrounds. The Julius Center has an extensive national and international network.

Deadline: November 10 2021

Date of entry: 22 October 2021

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