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Anja Rüten-Budde wins the C.J. Kok Jury Award for best thesis

Statistician Anja Rüten-Budde has won the C.J. Kok Jury Award 2020. Her PhD thesis resulted in an app which helps patients with soft tissue sarcoma and their doctors to make well-considered choices about the treatment. ‘Her work is interdisciplinary and directly relevant for society,’ the jury stated.


The jury was impressed by both the quality and the quantity of Rüten-Budde’s work. ‘The thesis consists of seven articles, of which six already published,’ the laudation says. ‘In addition, Anja is a co-author of six more articles. Before Anja’s work, there was no mathematical tool to help in decision making. The jury much appreciates that she not only provides statistical models but also helps clinicians with their data analysis, connecting theory and practice in statistics and medicine.’

Rüten-Budde: ‘The best clinical models come from close collaborations between statisticians and clinicians’

About the research

When confronted with a cancer diagnosis, patient and doctor are faced with a difficult decision: what is the optimal treatment, given the patient’s situation? Usually there are multiple options, each with their pros and cons. An important factor in the decision-making process is chance of survival. During her PhD research, Rüten-Budde developed mathematical models to predict the survival of patients with soft-tissue sarcoma. This is a type of cancer that occurs in soft tissue such as muscles and tendons. Areas that are commonly affected include arms, legs and lower abdomen. Based on specific patient’s characteristics, estimating the probability of survival will help in deciding the best treatment strategy.

Rüten-Budde used worldwide data of soft-tissue sarcoma patients with different characteristics – such as age, tumour size and tumour location – to estimate the survival probability for different situations. She developed a computer app which provides a personalised probability of survival within a specific time frame from surgery. The PhD position was funded by the Dutch Cancer Society KWF.

Picture: Pim Rusch

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