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Biostatistician contributing to breast cancer epidemiology

Keith Humphreys develops and uses statistical methods for epidemiological research. He has a special interest in breast cancer risk assessment and in the studying the effectiveness of mammography screening.

Keith Humphreys, portrait.
Professor Keith Humphreys, credit: Stefan Zimmerman.

What are you researching?

“I am a biostatistician, that is, a statistician who specialises in biological, clinical, and public health data analysis. My research primarily concerns two fields. One of these is breast cancer, which is the most common cancer form among women in Sweden. The research is conducted in close collaboration with medical researchers such as oncologists, radiologists, and epidemiologists. I have worked on statistical methods for studying the genetics of the disease. Today I primarily study variability in the disease’s progression.”

What does that mean?

“Variations in the disease’s behaviour – for example, that the tumour grows rapidly or spreads aggressively in certain patients but progresses more slowly in others. In order to better understand these differences, we are developing statistical methods for analysing large amounts of complex data combined from many sources: population registers, clinical data including x-ray images from mammograms, and molecular data from biobanks. My hope is that our results can provide insights into screening effectiveness and make it easier to identify women with a high risk of developing an aggressive form of breast cancer.”

What is the other field of focus in your research?

“It concerns the subject of biostatist- ics as its own independent research discipline. It is important for a medical university such as KI to continue developing its position in this area. The conditions are changing rapidly. Modern biomedical technology has resulted in an explosive increase in data, which could be used for research purposes – but in order to fully utilise it, we also need a vibrant biostatistics discipline. A closely related issue in which I am interested is how new research infrastructures for large-scale computations might be used more effectively in medical research.”

Text: Anders Nilsson, in translation from Swedish
First published in From Cell to Society 2019

Keith Humphreys

Professor of Biostatistics at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Keith Humphreys was born in 1965 in Bishop’s Stortford, Great Britain. He studied statistics at Sheffield City Polytechnic and Southampton University where he graduated in 1988 and 1990, respectively. He success- fully defended his doctoral thesis at Southampton University in 1996.

Humphreys has had postdoctoral appointments at Stockholm University between 1996-1997 and at Glasgow University between 1997-2000. He began his research at KI’s Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (MEB) in 2001, where he became an associate professor in 2002.

Keith Humphreys was appointed Professor of Biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet on 1 June 2019.