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YSPH Biostatistics Seminar: "Personalized Statistical Learning Algorithms to Improve the Early Detection of Cancer using Longitudinal Biomarkers"

SPEAKER: Nabihah Tayob, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Data Science, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School

TITLE: "Personalized Statistical Learning Algorithms to Improve the Early Detection of Cancer using Longitudinal Biomarkers”

ABSTRACT: The early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is critical to improving outcomes since advanced HCC has limited treatment options. Blood-based biomarkers are a promising direction since they are more easily standardized and less resource intensive than standard of care imaging. Combining multiple biomarkers is more likely to achieve the sensitivity required for a clinically useful screening algorithm and the longitudinal trajectory of biomarkers contains valuable information that should be utilized. We have developed two personalized statistical learning algorithms that use longitudinal biomarkers to improve the early detection performance. The first is a multivariate fully Bayesian algorithm (mFB) that models the joint biomarker trajectory and uses the posterior risk of HCC estimate to make screening decisions. The second is a multivariate parametric empirical Bayes (mPEB) screening approach that defines personalized thresholds for each patient at each screening visit to identify significant deviations that trigger additional testing with more sensitive imaging. The Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-term Treatment against Cirrhosis (HALT-C) trial provides a valuable source of data to study HCC screening algorithms. We study the performance of the mFB and mPEB algorithm applied to serum alpha-fetoprotein, a widely used HCC surveillance biomarker, and des-gamma carboxy prothrombin, an HCC risk biomarker that is FDA approved but not used in practice in the United States. We will also discuss validation of these algorithms in contemporary cirrhosis cohorts.

YSPH values inclusion and access for all participants. If you have questions about accessibility or would like to request an accommodation, please contact Charmila Fernandes at We will try to provide accommodations requested by April 30, 2024.


  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute & Harvard Medical School

    Nabihah Tayob, PhD
    Assistant Professor


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May 20247Tuesday