Double PhD achievements for CanTest Clinical Research Fellows

This month we are celebrating the achievements of two CanTest Clinical Research Fellows, who have both been awarded their PhDs. Stephen Bradley (University of Leeds) and Sam Merriel (University of Exeter) already hold the title of Doctor as they are both GPs in local practices, and now following the undertaking of in-depth research into their specialist areas of lung cancer diagnosis and prostate cancer diagnosis, both Stephen and Sam will officially be doctors in their respective academic research fields.

Stephen Bradley, a GP who joined the CanTest faculty in 2018, has been awarded a PhD following submission of his thesis ‘the role of imaging in the diagnosis of lung cancer in primary care’. Supervised by CanTest senior faculty members Associate Professor Bethany Shinkins (University of Leeds) and Professors Richard Neal and Willie Hamilton (University of Exeter), as well as Professor Mat Callister (University of Leeds), Dr Bradley’s work focused on how chest x-ray is used by GPs to diagnose lung cancer.

The work resulted in four research papers which were published in the British Journal of General Practice. These were a review on existing literature on the performance of chest x-ray, a study that estimated the accuracy of chest x-ray in a large sample of patients, a study that estimated the risk of having lung cancer despite a negative chest x-ray and a study which showed there is substantial variation in how often GPs use chest x-ray in England.  Dr Bradley successfully defended the thesis in February 2022 and following minor corrections his work has been awarded a research excellence award by the University of Leeds.

Commenting on the award of the PhD, Stephen said:

“This PhD has been a wonderful experience, I’m so grateful to my fantastic supervisors and also to Mr Pete Wheatstone who helped provided an invaluable patient perspective. Doing the PhD with the support of CanTest meant that the work was much richer and more productive than it otherwise would have been. I was able to collaborate with researchers at many institutions worldwide who I only met because of CanTest. This experience has given me the best possible start to my research career and I hope I can contribute to improving cancer outcomes for patients over the rest of my time in research”.

Please see more information about Dr Bradley’s work and his published findings below:

Stephen’s PhD Project:

Related Publications:

Dr Merriel’s PhD focused on assessing the safety, acceptability and cost-effectiveness of MRI scans for prostate cancer diagnosis in primary care. His research interests extend to the early detection of cancer in primary care, application of genomics in primary care, and preventive medicine.

Commenting on his PhD, Sam says:

“Prostate MRI as a diagnostic test for prostate cancer has a number of potential benefits for patients, and my PhD research suggests it is an acceptable test for patients with better patient-centred outcomes compared to ultrasound guided prostate biopsy. GPs had a spectrum of understanding of the role of prostate MRI, and my economic modelling suggested implementing direct access to prostate MRI in primary care might reduce costs for the health service but the long-term outcomes for patients were uncertain. I hope to further develop the evidence base for prostate cancer diagnosis in primary care to extend the health economic models and potentially develop a pilot for direct access to prostate MRI in the South-West of England.”

More information about Dr Merriel’s work and his published findings can be found below:

Sam’s PhD Project:

Related Publications:

Dr Merriel is now researching how to improve the accuracy of prostate cancer detection, and more information about his latest project can be seen here: E25-Aff: Primary care models for the detection of clinically significant prostate cancer: the ProsDetect study.

Further publications from Sam, Stephen and other members of the CanTest Collaborative can be found here.

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