Posted on: Friday, March 15, 2019

The TVCTU is delighted to welcome Xiaonan Liu to the Clinical Trials team. Xiaonan is a recent graduate of Imperial College London and is settling into a new role as a Clinical Trial Statistician.

Please tell us a little about your background.

I completed a Maters in Statistics at Imperial College London, including Medical stats and machine learning. My dissertation was also on Medical statistics and this is where my interests lie. This is why I am delighted to be in a statistician role within the TVCTU. Statistics are very important for clinical trials, for example it helps in the design of trials and the evaluation of potential treatments. For me this is fascinating area to be involved in.

Please explain the purpose of your role at the Thames Valley Clinical Trials Unit.

Before a clinical trial begins we start with a statistical analysis plan and study protocols. So I help develop statistical models for a trial and look at things like what statistical methods are going to be used in order to make sure the analysis is very rigorous and appropriate. I am also involved with data management and how it is collected. I am currently working on a trial called the EPICC Study which is a trial looking at child development and how this is influenced by activities taking place within children’s centres. Once I finished my training, I will also be involved in providing statistical advice on clinical trial designs.

Why is having a statistician for clinical trials important?

Statistics plays a very import role in clinical trials. Our work includes helping with designing the trials, analysing data rigorously, interpreting model results and answering hypothesis accurately. Within any trial, the amount of variables means that even small inaccuracies in data can affect the results. I work alongside Hayley Perry, who is the lead statistician in the TVCTU, to create my own plan so we can double check the statistical models and ensure everything is correct. Different trials also require different statistical techniques that we need to understand and discuss so it’s important we keep each other informed.

What do you enjoy most in the role?

There are many opportunities to learn. Although my background is statistical analysis, there are still many more statistical methodologies I need to explore. The study we are working now definitely helps me greatly put theoretical knowledge into application. It is challenging but always really interesting.