Professor Jon Deeks PhD, CStat

Professor Jon Deeks

Institute of Applied Health Research
Professor of Biostatistics, Joint School Research Lead
Deputy Director of the Institute of Applied Health Research

Contact details

Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Institute of Applied Health Research
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
Birmingham, B15 2TT

Jon Deeks is Professor of Biostatistics, Director of the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit, and leads the Biostatistics, Evidence Synthesis and Test Evaluation Research Group in the Institute of Applied Health Research, where he also holds a position of Joint Research Lead.

Jon trained as a medical statistician, and has followed a career which has given him broad experience across health research through working as a statistical collaborator on a variety of health research projects. His major methodological contributions have been made in the fields of evidence synthesis and test evaluation.

He has published over 150 research papers and reviews in scientific journals, which include both collaborative health research projects and methodological developments related to the evaluation of health care interventions and medical tests. His work has been funded by grants from the National Institute of Health Research and the Medical Research Council.

Jon leads the Cochrane Collaboration’s test evaluation activities, and is involved in the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Programme through appointment as Deputy Chair of the Commissioning Board.

He is an enthusiastic teacher of statistics and research methods, and frequently runs workshops, particularly related to test evaluation, at local, national and international events.


  • Chartered Statistician, Royal Statistical Society, 2007.
  • PhD in Evidence Synthesis, University of Amsterdam, 2007.
  • Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, 1990.
  • MSc with Distinction in Statistics with Applications in Medicine, University of Southampton, 1989.
  • BSc (Hons) in Mathematics, University of Southampton, 1988.


Jon Deeks qualified with a BSc (Hons) in Mathematics from the University of Southampton in 1988, where he remained to complete an MSc in Statistics with Applications in Medicine which was awarded with distinction in 1989.

He first worked as a Lecturer in Medical Statistics at the London Hospital Medical College, during the period in which it was merged with St Bartholomew’s, Queen Mary and Westfield Colleges. As well as supporting medical research projects across the College he developed an interest in Evidence Appraisal and Synthesis. In 1994 he moved to work at the newly formed NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination at the University of York, where he wrote their first methodological guidance of Methods for Systematic Reviews (CRD Report 4).

In 1995 he joined Professor Doug Altman in Oxford to found the Centre for Statistics in Medicine, where, in addition to collaborating in numerous healthcare evaluation studies, he pursued methodological research in systematic reviews and meta-analysis. He undertook leading statistical roles within the Cochrane Collaboration, including the specification of the RevMan statistical software and the statistical sections of the Collaboration’s Handbook. He was elected to the Steering Group of the Cochrane Collaboration in 2002, and served until 2008. Whilst in Oxford he organised four International Symposia on Methodology for Systematic Reviews, as well as developing and running training programmes in methods of evidence synthesis.

Jon’s current major research activity focuses on the evaluation of medical tests and biomarkers, which he first developed through collaborations whilst in Oxford, and then during a 1-year secondment to the Screening and Test Evaluation Program at the University of Sydney during 2003. In 2004 he was awarded an NHS Senior Research Fellowship in Evidence Synthesis which enabled him to focus on methods of meta-analysis for diagnostic test research, including leading the introduction of systematic reviews of Diagnostic Test Accuracy into the Cochrane Library. In 2008 he was awarded a PhD by the University of Amsterdam based on a thesis of publications related to evidence appraisal and synthesis, and was made a member of the NIHR Senior Researcher Faculty in 2010. He was appointed to the position of Deputy Chair of the NIHR HTA Commissioning Board in 2011.

Jon joined the University of Birmingham in 2006 as Professor of Biostatistics, where he has founded a research team in test evaluation supported by grants from NIHR and MRC. In addition he has created a Biostatistics group that coordinates the teaching of medical statistics across the College. In 2012 he took on the role as Director of the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit.


Postgraduate supervision

Jon is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Methodology for the evaluation of medical tests and biomarkers
  • Non-randomised evaluations of healthcare interventions
  • Methodology for systematic reviews

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Jon on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.   



Evaluation of medical tests and biomarkers, systematic review methodology, non-randomised evaluations of health care interventions 


Evaluation of medical tests and biomarkers

The evaluation of medical tests for purposes of diagnosis, prognosis, monitoring and predicting treatment benefit is a developing area, and historically has not been as well developed as methods for evaluating the effects of health care interventions. Many challenges exist in the design, execution, analysis and reporting of studies assessing tests.

Jon’s methodological research activity over the last decade has most closely focused on evaluating tests for diagnostic purposes, looking both at assessing test accuracy and the impact that tests have on patients. Projects have included looking at methods for evaluating accuracy in the absence of a reference standard, methods for meta-analysis, investigation of publication bias in test research, and the design and analysis of randomised trials of tests. He has also recently started to investigate methodological issues arising in the application of tests for purposes of monitoring.

In addition to methodological research, Jon has also provided statistical and methodological expertise for a portfolio of primary studies of research, from evaluation of blood tests for tuberculosis, to the use of PET imaging for the diagnosis and staging of cancer.

Jon leads the Cochrane Collaboration's diagnostic test accuracy activity, developing methods and providing support, training and editorial processes for producing high quality systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy. These reviews are beginning to be published in the Cochrane Library, the world's foremost source of evidence on the effects of healthcare interventions.

Systematic review methodology

Systematic reviews seek to collate all evidence that addresses a particular research question, appraise its relevance and validity, and produce a summary of its results, often in numerical form through meta-analytical methods. Jon has been involved in the appraisal and synthesis of evidence for around 20 years, first producing the Guidelines for Systematic Reviews at the NHS Centre for Reviews and Development (NHS CRD Report 4), contributing several key chapters to systematic review texts and handbooks (including the Cochrane Collaboration’s Handbook), and working on software algorithms for meta-analysis (including RevMan and the Stata metan ado function). His main methodological research contributions for reviews of health care interventions have been in assessing methods for meta-analysis of rare events and the choice of summary statistics for meta-analysis. More recently his research interests have focused on methods for the synthesis of evidence evaluating medical tests as described above.

In addition, Jon has co-authored over 30 systematic reviews across many different fields. These range from evaluating the benefits of circumcision to prevent transmission of HIV, through to evaluating the effectiveness of vaccines and drugs. More recently his published reviews have been on evaluations of tests, including screening for glaucoma, rapid diagnostic tests for malaria, and the use of imaging in the diagnosis of various diseases including multiple sclerosis, stroke and cancer.

Non-randomised evaluations of healthcare interventions

There are many situations in healthcare where no or very few randomised trials are available, but other evidence from non-randomised studies (NRS) exists.   Sometimes the lack of RCT evidence is for practical reasons (such as difficulties in recruiting to a trial), logistic reasons (such as the infeasibility of randomising the introduction of legislation or organisational change), or because RCTs would be inadequate to address the question (such as when outcomes are rare or require extended follow-up).   In many circumstances RCTs may simply never have been undertaken. Non-randomised comparisons are also made when comparing health outcomes between hospitals.

For clinicians and healthcare policy makers looking at non-randomised evidence it is important to gauge the likelihood and magnitude of possible biases that could affect the results of non-randomised studies in order to wisely interpret their results. Jon has been involved in work investigating the degree of bias in non-randomised studies, and studies to evaluate the ability of case-mix adjustment methods to correct estimates of treatment effects for selection biases inherent in non-randomised evaluations.

Other activities

  • Deputy chair of the NIHR Health Technology Assessment Commissioning Board (since 2011)
  • Executive Editor of the Cochrane Collaboration’s Diagnostic Test Accuracy Editorial Team (since 2008)
  • Director of the Trading Company of the Cochrane Collaboration (since 2010)
  • Statistical Editor at the BMJ (since 1993)
  • Member of the MRC Methodology Research Panel (2008-2011)
  • Member of the Steering Group of the Cochrane Collaboration (2002-8)
  • Chair of the scientific planning committees of the Birmingham International Symposia on Methodological Evaluation of Medical Tests and Biomarkers (2008, 2010)


European Food Safety Authority (2010), Application of systematic review methodology to food and feed safety assessments to support decision making, EFSA Journal, 8(6):1637. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1637. Available online:  (working group Deeks J, Frampton G, Glanville J, Greiner M, Higgins J, Lövei G, O'Connor A, Pullin A, Rajić A, Aiassa E, Amzal B, Verloo D, Afonso A, Dorne J-L, Nienstedt KM).

Yu LM, Chan AW, Hopewell S, Deeks JJ, Altman DG (2010). Reporting on covariate adjustment in randomised controlled trials before and after revision of the 2001 CONSORT statement: a literature review, Trials; 18:11:59.

Macaskill P, Gatsonis C, Deeks JJ, Harbord RM, Takwoingi Y (2010). Chapter 10: Analysing and Presenting Results. In: Deeks JJ, Bossuyt PM, Gatsonis C (editors), Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Diagnostic Test Accuracy Version 0.9.0. The Cochrane Collaboration. Available from:

Pennant M, Takwoingi Y, Pennant L, Davenport C, Fry-Smith A, Eisinga A, Andronis L, Arvanitis T, Deeks J, Hyde C (2010). A systematic review of positron emission tomography (PET) and positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) for the diagnosis of breast cancer recurrence. Health Technology Assessment. 14(50):1-103.

Ingram L, Macarthur C, Khan K, Deeks JJ, Jolly K (2010). Effect of antenatal peer support on breastfeeding initiation: a systematic review, CMAJ,182(16):1739-46.

CAESAR study collaborative group (2010). Caesarean section surgical techniques: a randomised factorial trial (CAESAR). BJOG. 117(11):1366-76.

Graves PM, Deeks JJ, Demicheli V, Jefferson T (2010). Vaccines for preventing cholera: killed whole cell or other subunit vaccines (injected). Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews. 8:CD000974.

Riley RJ, Higgins JPT, Deeks JJ (2011). The interpretation of random effects meta-analysis. BMJ;342:d549. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d549.