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Why don’t they teach modelling in schools? Part II

4 Oct

Say what you’re not saying, don’t say it, say what you didn’t say

Last time I blogged that modelling is not limited to software engineering, play and simulation; but is universal in human endeavour. I mentioned that considering accuracy is important but not sufficient in assessing a model. What other considerations are there?

My favourite lens for looking at a model is abstraction. In philosophical terminology, abstraction is about grouping concepts together at decreasing levels of detail. So, a duck is a duck and no other thing is a duck (no matter how it looks or walks or sounds); but applying abstraction allows us to talk about birds and say useful things, which might be rather exasperating if we had to list every bird in the world to say them. This kind of classification is a particular feature of object-oriented programming languages (which may or may not be a good thing).

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UK Begins Nationwide Personalised Medicine Programme

13 Sep

I’ve really enjoyed seeing the Cancer Research UK Stratified Medicine Programme getting so much coverage around the globe. This initiative will blaze the trail for the wider adoption of genetic testing to support diagnosis and treatment of various cancers including breast, colorectal, lung, prostate, ovarian and skin cancer.

The 2 year program will see 9,000 samples and associated clinical data systematically captured and genetically tested for known cancer variants with a view to building a comprehensive warehouse of cancer data. This will then form a research resource to better understand the genetic basis for diagnosis and disease treatment, and in the future support clinical decision-making.

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Are clinical trials in the real world?

2 Sep

Last Friday’s report in Reuters that less than 1% of US cancer patients get into clinical trials for new treatments tells a much wider story: that clinical trial and the real world clinical environment are often very different things.

The conclusion of the academics was:

In addition to profoundly low overall cancer trial accrual, vast underrepresentation by age, cancer stage, and site continue to exist. The generalizability of these trials to a real world perspective remains an open question. Physicians, payers, the National Cancer Institute, and other stakeholders need to develop broader cancer trials to benefit the millions of patients with cancer in the United States.

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