Honours scholarship for 2020: clinical predictive analytics tools using big data

Honours Scholarship 

Project Title

Providing realistic expectations of medicines used in the treatment of advanced cancer: Development of predictive analytics tools from clinical trial and electronic health record data.


Effective communication of personalised expectations of benefits and harms from medicines used in advanced cancer treatment can improve shared decision making, empower patients, and enable better decisions regarding whether to commence and continue medicines.

Our group presently has access to individual-patient data (demographic, laboratory and tumour data) from over 60,000 advanced cancer patients. Such data allows the development of prognostic tools that can present personalised likelihoods of therapeutic and adverse effects to medicines.

Historically high-quality prediction models have rarely been available for more than a single outcome for a single medicine. However improved data collection and data sharing initiatives are allowing validated prognostic models to be developed for multiple outcomes for multiple medicines. Therefore, a research focus of the group involves the development of prognostic tools via the analysis of “big data” sourced from clinical trials and data registries through standard and advanced statistical techniques.

However, there is very little evidence on the optimal design of prognostic tools or apps for the presentation of both benefit and harms to medicines used in advanced cancers. Therefore, another focus of the group involves investigating optimal decision aid designs that facilitate effective communication of personalised predictions of expected benefits and harms from medicines used in advanced cancer treatment, with a patient centred focus.

Prospective Students Qualities

Prospective students require an interest in clinical epidemiology, biostatistics, pharmacometrics, R programming and improving cancer care.

Suitable students likely have a background in any of pharmacology / biostatistics / pharmacy / laboratory medicine / medical sciences / nursing / psychology, or similar.


The projects will be conducted at Flinders University as part of Flinders Cancer Research, which is a multi-disciplinary collaboration between oncologists from the Flinders Medical Centre and researchers from Flinders University.

Supervisory Team

Professor Michael Sorich


Dr Ashley Hopkins


Associate Professor Andrew Rowland


Professor Ross McKinnon



The group declares funding from the National Breast Cancer Foundation, NHMRC, Tour De Cure, Cancer Council SA, and Pfizer.  We are currently accepting expressions of interest from individuals looking to do honours within the group, the top three candidates will be provided with a living allowance valued between $5000 to $10,000, pendant commitment and dedication to the project.


Projects will begin within the 2020 year.

The following eligibility criteria apply to the scholarship:

  • Must be undertaken on a full-time basis.
  • Must be an Australian citizen or hold permanent residency.
  • Applicants must have good verbal and written communication skills.
  • Grade point average (GPA) must be well above a credit average, and evidence needs to be provided.
  • Meet the entry requirements of the Flinders University honours program.

More information

Please contact Dr Ashley Hopkins for more information: ashley.hopkins@flinders.edu.au


To apply you must provide:

  • A brief curriculum vitae/cover letter (no more than 3 pages, size 12 times new roman, with 1.5-line spacing) which includes the project title, your qualifications, GPA, research interests, suitability for the project, academic achievements, publications, work history, and referee details. Application must outline your grade point average (GPA).
  • A PDF copy of your academic transcript.
  • Documents should be named as:
    • CV_JohnSmith
    • AcademicTranscript_JohnSmith

Please submit all required documents by email to: ashley.hopkins@flinders.edu.au

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