Theses Doctoral

Some Nonparametric Methods for Clinical Trials and High Dimensional Data

Wu, Xiaoru

This dissertation addresses two problems from novel perspectives. In chapter 2, I propose an empirical likelihood based method to nonparametrically adjust for baseline covariates in randomized clinical trials and in chapter 3, I develop a survival analysis framework for multivariate K-sample problems. (I): Covariate adjustment is an important tool in the analysis of randomized clinical trials and observational studies. It can be used to increase efficiency and thus power, and to reduce possible bias. While most statistical tests in randomized clinical trials are nonparametric in nature, approaches for covariate adjustment typically rely on specific regression models, such as the linear model for a continuous outcome, the logistic regression model for a dichotomous outcome, and the Cox model for survival time. Several recent efforts have focused on model-free covariate adjustment. This thesis makes use of the empirical likelihood method and proposes a nonparametric approach to covariate adjustment. A major advantage of the new approach is that it automatically utilizes covariate information in an optimal way without fitting a nonparametric regression. The usual asymptotic properties, including the Wilks-type result of convergence to a chi-square distribution for the empirical likelihood ratio based test, and asymptotic normality for the corresponding maximum empirical likelihood estimator, are established. It is also shown that the resulting test is asymptotically most powerful and that the estimator for the treatment effect achieves the semiparametric efficiency bound. The new method is applied to the Global Use of Strategies to Open Occluded Coronary Arteries (GUSTO)-I trial. Extensive simulations are conducted, validating the theoretical findings. This work is not only useful for nonparametric covariate adjustment but also has theoretical value. It broadens the scope of the traditional empirical likelihood inference by allowing the number of constraints to grow with the sample size. (II): Motivated by applications in high-dimensional settings, I propose a novel approach to testing equality of two or more populations by constructing a class of intensity centered score processes. The resulting tests are analogous in spirit to the well-known class of weighted log-rank statistics that is widely used in survival analysis. The test statistics are nonparametric, computationally simple and applicable to high-dimensional data. We establish the usual large sample properties by showing that the underlying log-rank score process converges weakly to a Gaussian random field with zero mean under the null hypothesis, and with a drift under the contiguous alternatives. For the Kolmogorov-Smirnov-type and the Cramer-von Mises-type statistics, we also establish the consistency result for any fixed alternative. As a practical means to obtain approximate cutoff points for the test statistics, a simulation based resampling method is proposed, with theoretical justification given by establishing weak convergence for the randomly weighted log-rank score process. The new approach is applied to a study of brain activation measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging when performing two linguistic tasks and also to a prostate cancer DNA microarray data set.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Ying, Zhiliang
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 11, 2011