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Jennifer Cooper - ePortfolio

I am a PhD student based within the Division of Health Sciences at Warwick Medical School.

My research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) West Midlands.

My Research - "Improving the FIT"

My research focusses on improving the performance of colorectal cancer screening through a risk adjusted testing approach.

Background & Rationale: Currently, CRC screening in the UK is predominately determined by age (60-74 years) and the screening test used is the guaiac based faecal occult blood test (FOBT). A more recently developed test (faecal immunochemical test or FIT) has recently been piloted in the UK with promising preliminary results and has the advantage of an adjustable cutoff value.

There are several risk factors, which have been shown in epidemiological studies to be associated with the risk of developing CRC including age and gender. Lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, alcohol intake and dietary factors have been shown to have a significant effect on the risk of CRC. One such study suggests that 54.4% of incident CRC cases in the UK are due to lifestyle factors. In a Danish population, combining such risk factors with the screening test (FIT) improved sensitivity at a similar level of specificity but no such study currently exists for the UK population.

Research Aim: The overall aim of this research is therefore to determine whether risk factors can be integrated into the FIT screening algorithm to improve test performance in a UK population, the practicalities of this approach, and whether including risk factors is acceptable to the population. This will be achieved through five studies.

Relevance, Application and Benefits: A risk-adjusted screening test approach may have several benefits including an increased detection of early stage cancers and their precursors as well as minimizing over-diagnosis, the number of false positives and negatives and ensuring that the benefits outweigh the harms of screening.

My Research Interests

My research interests include: Cancer screening programmes, diagnostic tests, test performance, electronic health records, risk prediction models, health and lifestyle risk assessment and primary prevention interventions.


I have previously worked in a clinical trials role on a head and neck cancer project titled 'PETNECK'. This project was a multicentre randomised phase III trial comparing PET-CT guided watch and wait policy versus planned neck dissection for the management of locally advanced (N2/N3) nodal metastases in patients with head and neck squamous cancer. The results of this trial will be published in 2015.

I have obtained a BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Warwick (2011) followed by an MSc in Management from Warwick Business School (2013).

Current Projects & Publications

Seedat F, Cooper J, Stranges S, Kandala NB, Taylor-Phillips S. International comparisons of screening policy-making: A systematic review. National Screening Committee. 2014



I am currently involved in initiating a ScienceGrrl chapter for Coventry & Warwickshire to promote girls and women in STEMM subjects and science careers. This involves leading outreach programmes on behalf of ScienceGrrl Coventry & Warwickshire into local schools and I have also set up a Twitter page to promote our activities.



Jennifer Cooper

Division of Health Sciences
Warwick Medical School
University of Warwick