Megan McCabe

Megan McCabe, PhD student, biostatistics

Innovates clinical research designs

“Based on Megan’s meticulous attention to detail, thoughtful questions, and her contributions to our team meetings with creative ideas and potential solutions, as well as being a great team player and sought after friend among other graduate students, we think Megan is an exemplary graduate student.” -Emine Bayman, associate professor

Victoria, Minnesota

Faculty mentor/advisor:
Emine Bayman, PhD, associate professor of biostatistics, deputy director of the Clinical Trials Statistical and Data Management Center (CTSDMC); Christopher Coffey, PhD, professor of biostatistics, director of the CTSDMC

What is your degree program and anticipated graduation date?
Biostatistics PhD program; anticipated graduation May 2024

Please describe your research:
The overarching objective of my research is to improve the design and conduct of clinical trials, and I participate in this research through my dissertation work and my position as a graduate research assistant at the Clinical Trials Statistical and Data Management Center (CTSDMC). In my research I use statistics to monitor the progress of ongoing clinical trials, analyze the data from concluded trials, and assist in planning new trials. In particular, I am interested in the use of innovative clinical trial designs, with my dissertation research focusing on a specific type of clinical trial design called a platform trial. In my dissertation work I am investigating some statistical properties of the platform trial, as well as evaluating some of the practical challenges of implementing them.

In simple terms, why does this research matter?
Clinical trials are considered the gold standard for evaluating the efficacy of an experimental treatment or intervention. This means that for a new treatment or intervention to be used in practice, it is often first evaluated in one or more clinical trials. In my research I hope to make this process more efficient and flexible so that the best possible treatment options can reach the affected populations sooner.

How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research?
Immediately – I started as a graduate research assistant at the CTSDMC in my first semester at University of Iowa (Fall 2020).

How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa?
It is difficult to describe all the ways in which being involved in research has made me more successful at University of Iowa. My work at CTSDMC has challenged me intellectually and helped me learn and grow, while always providing a fun and supportive environment in which to do so. It has also allowed me to get firsthand experience working in the type of environment that I hope to work in post-graduation. Being involved in research at CTSDMC has also made me more successful by helping me secure two external internships during my time in the PhD program. I had opportunities to complete an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Fellowship at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and at a pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim. These experiences allowed me to see clinical trials outside of academia, and I feel very fortunate to have had these opportunities to expand my knowledge and gain a more well-rounded perspective of my research area.

What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation?
After graduation I hope to continue working in clinical trials and clinical study design. My future research will continue to be motivated by practical, real-life challenges that we run into when designing and conducting clinical trials.

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