Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biomathematics and Biostatistics

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Donald A. Berry

Committee Member

Donald A. Berry

Committee Member

B. Nebiyou Bekele

Committee Member

Yisheng Li

Committee Member

Yuan Ji

Committee Member

Funda Meric-Bernstam


This dissertation explores phase I dose-finding designs in cancer trials from three perspectives: the alternative Bayesian dose-escalation rules, a design based on a time-to-dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) model, and a design based on a discrete-time multi-state (DTMS) model.

We list alternative Bayesian dose-escalation rules and perform a simulation study for the intra-rule and inter-rule comparisons based on two statistical models to identify the most appropriate rule under certain scenarios. We provide evidence that all the Bayesian rules outperform the traditional ``3+3'' design in the allocation of patients and selection of the maximum tolerated dose.

The design based on a time-to-DLT model uses patients' DLT information over multiple treatment cycles in estimating the probability of DLT at the end of treatment cycle 1. Dose-escalation decisions are made whenever a cycle-1 DLT occurs, or two months after the previous check point. Compared to the design based on a logistic regression model, the new design shows more safety benefits for trials in which more late-onset toxicities are expected. As a trade-off, the new design requires more patients on average.

The design based on a discrete-time multi-state (DTMS) model has three important attributes: (1) Toxicities are categorized over a distribution of severity levels, (2) Early toxicity may inform dose escalation, and (3) No suspension is required between accrual cohorts. The proposed model accounts for the difference in the importance of the toxicity severity levels and for transitions between toxicity levels. We compare the operating characteristics of the proposed design with those from a similar design based on a fully-evaluated model that directly models the maximum observed toxicity level within the patients' entire assessment window. We describe settings in which, under comparable power, the proposed design shortens the trial. The proposed design offers more benefit compared to the alternative design as patient accrual becomes slower.


Bayesian phase I dose finding, dose escalation, 3+3, logistic regression, overdose control, time-to-DLT, follow-up cycles, discrete-time multi-state, severity level, average toxicity score