Thao Le Thi Phuong
After completing my undergraduate degree in pharmacy in Vietnam, I took a huge sideways leap to undertake a master's degree in statistics at Hasselt University, Belgium, under the sponsorship of the Belgium Bilateral Scholarships. Coming from a biological background, statistics was a foreign land of knowledge for me at first. But before I knew it, I started to develop interest in this fascinating field. My master's thesis focused on the statistical analysis of multiplex serological data, to evaluate malaria transmission in pre-elimination settings. With aspirations to continue working in applied medical statistics and tropical diseases, I joined the Biostatistics Group of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit (OUCRU) in Vietnam in 2015. Subsequently, I was awarded a Prize studentship from the Nuffield Department of Medicine to pursue my DPhil research. My DPhil thesis explores modelling the prognosis of tuberculous meningitis (TBM). Specifically, I built prediction models for survival: baseline models from information at TBM diagnosis, and dynamic models using information from longitudinal biomarkers. These were developed based on one of the largest databases of prospectively characterized TBM patients to date, and showed good performance, clearly outperforming the classical grading system for TBM. I also published these as publically-available web-based apps to facilitate their application in practice. These models can assist clinicians in decision making around treatment and patient management. In addition to the applied parts of my thesis, I also performed a simulation study to compare different methods in model selection in the presence of multiply-imputed data.
I really enjoyed working with my supervisors at OUCRU, and tremendously thank them for their support and mentoring. With their support, I additionally had the opportunity to be involved for several randomized clinical trials as a statistician. This involved trial design, data curation, formal analyses, and writing publications. Now, at the end of my DPhil, I am an author of ten publications, four of which I am the first author.