PhD student on modelling cancer screening

  • Erasmus MC
  • Rotterdam, Nederland
  • sep 15, 2022
Fulltime Research Data Science

Job Description

Job description

You will contribute to the extension and further development of a world-leading computer simulation model for the evaluation of colorectal and gastric cancer screening and the use of this model to predict benefits, harms and cost-effectiveness of colorectal cancer prevention. You will be developing statistical and machine learning algorithms to efficiently determine the optimal screening strategy based on an individual’s age, sex and risk among more than 200,000 possible screening strategies.

Colorectal and gastric cancer are leading causes of cancer death in Europe and other developed countries. Fortunately, early detection or screening has been proven to effectively prevent cancers and cancer death. In response, many countries have decide to offer cancer screening to their population to reduce morbidity and mortality from the disease. However, screening also poses serious harms, such as false-positive test results and overdiagnosis. We therefore have the continuous responsibility to try and improve the benefits of screening and reducing its harms.

As part of the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET), Erasmus MC collaborates with a group of cancer modelers throughout the world to advance the field of cancer screening. Within this network, you will extend and further improve the world-leading MISCAN microsimulation model and use the model to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of different screening strategies. You will use its results to advise national and international government institutes about the optimal way to reduce the burden of colorectal and gastric cancer across the world. This project will allow you to gain experience with a broad range of quantitative research methods, applied to addressing a highly relevant societal challenge among all developed countries in the world, potentially resulting in significant health impact. The project enables you to collaborate with an international research team that includes a comprehensive mixture of relevant backgrounds, including econometrics, decision modeling, biostatistics, epidemiology, public health, and clinical practice.

Work environment

A healthy population and excellence in healthcare through research and education. That is what Erasmus MC stands for. Conducting groundbreaking work, pushing boundaries and leading the way. In research, education, and healthcare. We are practical people with a high level of expertise, working hard to improve and renew the healthcare of today and the public health of tomorrow.

At the Department of Public Health, we are dedicated to improve population health at local, national, and international level through excellent research and education. Our research is characterized as highly multidisciplinary and is focused on the development and use of innovative methods. Collaboration with and direct impact on practice and policy are at the heart of our work.

The screening research group is involved in a large number of projects investigating the effectiveness of screening to prevent cancer or death from cancer. The aim of our work is to quantify the favourable and unfavourable effects of screening for a wide range of diseases to guide public health policy and help individuals make an informed choice about screening participation. Our department has a high reputation in this field, both among national policy makers (Ministry of Health, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)) as well as internationally (United States National Cancer Institute, European Commission).

Qualifications and skills

  • We are looking for a candidate with an interest in health research. You have a Master’s degree in Econometrics, Biostatistics, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Theoretical Biology, Theoretical Psychology, Physics, Biomedical Engineering, bio-informatics, or a related field.
  • Key skills that the candidate will be developing and working with are quantitative analysis, scientific communication (oral and written) and programming.
  • We offer the opportunity for candidates to deepen their affinity with quantitative research and acquire experience in advanced data analysis, modelling, and writing of scientific papers.

Terms of employment

  • You will receive PhD position for 4 years.
  • The gross monthly salary is € 2.631,- in the 1st year and increases to € 3.336 in the 4th year (scale OiO).
  • The terms of employment are according to the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch University Medical Centers (CAO UMC).

More information

For more information about this position, please contact Iris Lansdorp-Vogelaar, Associate Professor, e-mail: