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Our research team aims to innovate in the area of methodology for medical sciences including preclinical, clinical and social health sciences. Different projects focus on medical statistics, medical informatics and statistical and modelling algorithms 




Covid-19 Methodology: Data-driven epidemiological model to monitor the sustainability of hospital care

K. Barbé, S. Blotwijk & W. Cools

Covid-19 offers challenges for statisticians as well. Corona hospitalisation SIR model, a technical note, addresses how to approximate the popular SIR-equations analytically, which after reparametrization allow for straightforward parameter estimation and prediction of hospitalisation sustainability. Extensions that add flexibility are highlighted which allow stable identification of the model with a limited time series. Please reference: Barbé, K.,  Blotwijk, S., & Cools, W. (2020) Data-driven epidemiological model to monitor the sustainability of hospital care, VUB Covid19 Technical Note No. ICDS043020.


running projects


Radiomics in cancer radiotherapy: unraveling the biology to optimize treatment

A. Rifi & K. Barbé

Radiomics can be used to provide valuable information for personalized cancer therapy. However, the dimensionality implies that radiomics renders a huge data set with many quantitative variables extracted from CT images of the tumor. One way to deal with this dimensionality is by applying random forests as a multivariate classification tool to analyze the radiomics data to predict tumor response. Although such random forests can cope with high dimensional data, its predictions are a black box system. In this project, we will break in into the black box. By dedicated animal trials, we will explore the decision-making process of the random forest to understand what triggers specific predictions.


PROMoting Informed and Shared decisions about E-Health solutions for older adults with cognitive impairments and their informal caregivers (PROMISE)

S. Dequanter, M. Fobelets & R. Buyl

The number of older adults with cognitive impairments (MCI, dementia) is growing in fast pace. The development of technologies dedicated to health and well-being (e-Health) offers potential to support these older adults and their informal caregivers, but is not always adapted to their needs and preferences. This FWO funded bilateral collaborative Flanders-Québec project supports these groups in making informed and shared decisions about e-Health solutions to improve their health and well-being and to facilitate aging in place. The research project includes qualitative research methods as well as systematic literature reviews and ultimately, the development of an electronic decision support tool.


Random neural network forests decision support for markerless stereotactic body radiotherapy

C. Raets & K. Barbé

In the field of dosimetry, clinicians define the correct dose of radiotherapy to treat cancer patients. In this project, we examine and design the potential of random forests for the dose calculation. By acknowledging that neural networks allow modelling complex relationships; we wish to combine random forests and neural networks such that an ensemble of 'simpler' neural networks, yet with random weights, can be obtained to alleviate potential overfitting leading to more precise dose calculations.


Fractional-order Wiener-Hammerstein systems for bio-impedance spectroscopy

H. Shaikh & K. Barbé

Wiener-Hammerstein models are a popular class of nonlinear dynamic time series as a simple type of nonlinear Volterra model. The Volterra model holds the same properties as what is observed in linear time series for nonlinear time series. As a result, the nonlinear system is decomposed into a purely linear and purely nonlinear part. In this project, we allow the linear dynamics to show fractional behaviour specifically of interest in the field of (bio)spectroscopy. Moreover, the project aims for algorithmic innovations which speeds up the training of the Wiener-Hammerstein model considerably.


Akritas-Arnold tests to assess nanoParticles to Activate immune Responses against Cancer

O. Olarte & K. Barbé

Contrast tests achieve a high power but unfortunately non-parametric contrast tests are limited to the Jonckheere-Terpstra test. Emerging tests of the Akritas-Arnold type is not fully understood and explored. This family of tests can be positioned within the rank randomization tests. In this project, we aim at a better understanding of the mathematical properties of the Akritas-Arnold tests which will be validated on a preclinical study on immunotherapy against cancer.


Towards a noncentral χ-distributed modelling approach for parallel fMRI

S. Blotwijk & K. Barbé

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is a non-invasive scanning technique which allows to observe the body in action. It has been used to study the functioning of various systems in the body, such as joints and the heart, but it is most well-known for its role in studying brain activity. Currently, the brain still acts considerably faster, than traditional fMRI-scanners, which take several seconds to perform a single scan. A prominent technique that can speed up fMRI-scanning is parallel imaging (PI), but it does so at the expense of the quality of the signal. In this project, we intend to develop a mathematical and statistical framework to keep drawing correct and reliable conclusions, even at these lower signal-to-noise ratios.


finished projects


End-to-end errors in the Belgian electronic prescription

S. Van Laere & R. Buyl

The Belgian electronic prescription has found its entry in Belgium in 2007. Since 2013, pilot tests have been set up and in 2014 the Recip-e project has found its entrance to the broad Belgian public. One of the biggest changes came in 2017 in this project by means of a unique Recip-e ID (RID) barcode printed on top of each proof of electronic prescription to facilitate the pharmacist. In this project we investigate possible errors in the workflow between the traditional 3 Ps (prescriber, patient and pharmacist) and the tarification service.
PhD. Sven Van Laere, 2020