Research Projects
Cost-Effectiveness of Biologics in Patients with Established Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Application of Real-World Big Data and Disease Simulation Modeling

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☒ MPhil/PhD ☑ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS
About the Project

Objective and Significance:

Rheumatic arthritis (RA) is a widespread chronic inflammatory with complex heterogeneous characteristics and has carried a substantial disease and economic burdens. Biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) significantly changed the management of RA with significant improvement of treatment outcome and patient’s quality of life. However, the high drug cost hinders the utilization of these effective drugs. The study aims to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of biologics (including biologics originators and biosimilars) by using disease simulation model and healthcare dig data to inform the formulary listing decisions for bDMARDs.

Research Plan and Methodology:

A Markov cohort simulation model will be developed to incorporate the clinical and economics profiles of patients with rheumatic arthritis. Base on the model, mortality, quality of life, medical costs and indirect costs will be cumulative analysed through lifetime horizon, and further compared among different treatments (traditional DMARDs, biologic originators and biosimilars). Data source for model parameters include the territory-wide healthcare big data in Hong Kong, patient-based disease registry, landmark trials from international studies, published systematic review and meta-analysis, and expert opinions. Primary outcome is incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) presented as US dollar per quality-adjusted life year saved (QALY). Cost-effective decision will be determined if the treatment has ICER below pre-defined willingness-to-pay threshold.

About the Supervisor

Dr SX Li, Department of Medicine

Dr Shirley Li is currently an Assistant Professor appointed jointly by the Department of Medicine and the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy at The University of Hong Kong. Her primary research interests lie in real-world outcome (HEOR), health technology assessment (HTA) and health economics and research using decision-analytic models and electronic health records (healthcare big data). Since joining HKU in 2014, Dr Li has led and contributed to many HERO projects, all of which involves dynamic interactions with local and international academic collaborators, the local government, industry partners, NGOs and other key opinion leaders. Dr Li’s recent research focuses on the cost-effectiveness, prescription and trajectories of biologic and biosimilar treatments among patients with autoimmune diseases. She has published actively in the field of public health science, health service and health policy, covering the therapeutic areas of infectious diseases and vaccinology, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus, autoimmune diseases and rare diseases. Dr Li’s research work has been supported by Health and Medical Research Fund of the Food and Health Bureau of Hong Kong SAR Government (PI), HKU Seed Fund (PI), Pfizer Investigator-Initiated Research Fund (PI), Pfizer Educational Fund (PI), Janssen Educational Research Fund (PI) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (co-I).


Next Step?

For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.