Professor Jon Deeks PhD, CStat

Professor Jon Deeks

Institute of Applied Health Research
Professor of Biostatistics

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 and leads the Biostatistics, Evidence Synthesis and Test Evaluation Research Group in the Institute of Applied Health Research. He is also a Theme Lead within the NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre.

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 300 research papers, reviews in scientific journals and book chapters, 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’s current major focus is in test evaluation. He is the senior methodologist on numerous primary evaluations and systematic reviews of medical tests, leads the Cochrane Collaboration’s test evaluation activities, advises the WHO on test evaluation methods and is an NIHR Senior Investigator Emeritus. 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. 

Jon has had multiple involvements with NIHR. Notably he was Deputy Chair of the NIHR HTA Commissioning Board from 2011 to 2016. He has been an NIHR Senior investigator since 2010.

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. He was Director of the Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit from 2012-2016 and received the University of Birmingham Joseph Chamberlain award for Academic Advancement for his leadership of the Cochrane Collaboration’s test evaluation work in 2014.

In this video Jon and Dr Winnie Chua (Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences) discuss their collaboration to discover and evaluate biomarkers associated with atrial fibrillation.


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 interested in studying any of these subject areas please contact Jon directly, or 
for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email


Research themes

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

Research activity

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

  • Executive Editor of the Cochrane Collaboration’s Diagnostic Test Accuracy Editorial Team (since 2008)
  • Chief Statistical Advisor (since 2018), previously Statistical Editor (since 1993) at the BMJ
  • Chair of the scientific planning committees of the Birmingham International Symposia on Methodological Evaluation of Medical Tests and Biomarkers MEMTAB (2008, 2010, 2013, 2016)


A full list of Jon’s publications is available in Google Scholar.

View all publications in research portal