PhD position - Liver Investigation: Testing Marker Utility in Steatohepatitis (LITMUS) Project

The job

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects 20-30% of the population worldwide and represents a spectrum of disease occurring in the absence of excessive alcohol consumption that ranges from isolated hepatic triglyceride accumulation (steatosis, NAFL); to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH); and ultimately progresses to fibrosis/cirrhosis and potentially hepatocellular carcinoma. NAFLD is a common condition and characterized by substantial inter-patient variability in severity and rate of progression.

Which NAFLD patients will go on to develop NASH and, for those with NASH, predicting how fast the disease will progress, are still big challenges in medicine. A pioneering European research initiative, the LITMUS project which includes 47 international research partners, aims to deliver simple biological markers (e.g. from blood tests or imaging) that could be used to diagnose NASH and predict which patients will rapidly develop more serious liver disease.

Our role in this project involves the synthesis of the available evidence, the evaluation of performance against minimally acceptable performance criteria, and the analysis of the data on biomarker performance. Under supervision, the candidate will be involved in conducting initial literature search and systematic reviews to inform candidate biomarker selection, also will be involved in conducting the necessary data integration and management of the data, statistical analysis and evidence synthesis for biomarkers tested by the LITMUS platforms as well as writing periodic project reports and publications in international journals. This project also provides the PhD-candidate ample room for personal initiatives and individual (novel) research projects, either related to evaluating medical tests and biomarkers or to NAFLD, of course in close cooperation with the supervision team.

Our department

The department of Clinical Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics (KEBB) of the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) is the knowledge center for methodology of biomedical research in the AMC. Our expertise is based on scientific research developing and evaluating new epidemiological and statistical methods for designing and analyzing large population and patient studies as well as small experimental and laboratory experiments. Our expertise is shared with clinical and biological researchers through collaborative scientific projects, organizing scientific seminars and teaching in the medical curricula of the AMC and in several specialized courses for researchers in the AMC. The department is part of the research institute Amsterdam Public Health.

This project is under the Biomarker and Test Evaluation research program (BITE), which is led by Prof.dr. P.M.M. Bossuyt, and wants to appraise and develop methods for evaluating medical tests and biomarkers, and to apply these methods in relevant clinical studies. In doing so, we wish to strengthen the evidence-base for rational decision-making about the use of tests and test strategies in health care (Please see Research programmes for further information).

Your application

Candidates should send a brief statement of research interests, and a curriculum vitae with the contact information of three references to Dr. M.H. Zafarmand, e-mail: m.h.zafarmand@amc.uva.nl by the deadline, February 14th, 2018.