News archive

Coronavirus: How to stop illness from becoming pandemic

Speculation continues to grow on whether the outbreak of the novel coronavirus will be declared a global pandemic. During this segment, Eran Bendavid, associate professor of medicine, was interviewed about what constitutes a pandemic and efforts to stop the spread of the disease.


Waiting for data: Barriers to executing data use agreements

Many academic researchers who use preexisting data to conduct research describe a common experience: waiting for university officials to finalize and sign contracts necessary to transfer the data. These data use agreements (DUAs) detail the terms under which data will be disclosed, transferred, stored, and used, specifying rights and obligations for both the data supplier and the recipient (1). Faculty members often struggle to understand why DUAs for transfers of seemingly low-risk data take so long to conclude. To understand reasons for delays and explore what might be done to streamline the process, we interviewed a sample of university officials responsible for negotiating DUAs. 

This work was supported by the Center for Population Health Sciences and funded by the Sloan Foundation.


Mental Health: How we've improved and where we need to do better in 2020

The article takes a look at some of the most significant breakthroughs in mental health in the last 10 years and areas that need improvement going forward. Keith Humphreys, the Esther Ting Memorial Professor and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, provides comment.


In Australia, the air poses a threat; people are rushing to hospitals in cities choked by smoke

Australia’s bush fires have blanketed parts of the continent with pollution, affecting hundreds of thousands of people who are not in immediate danger from the flames. This article discusses the long-term health implications smoke exposure and quotes Kari Nadeau, the Naddisy Foundation Professor of Pediatric Food Allergy, Immunology and Asthma, professor of medicine and of pediatrics, and director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy & Asthma Research at Stanford, and Mary Prunicki, instructor of medicine.


Our body systems age at different rates, study finds, pointing to personalized care to extend health life

Stanford scientists have identified specific biological pathways along which individuals age over time. Senior author Michael Snyder, the Stanford W. Ascherman, MD, FACS, Professor and chair of genetics, is quoted in this piece. 


What to know before resolving to eat less meat

While a growing number of people resolving to go vegan or vegetarian, nutrition studies have conflicting messages on meat. Christopher Gardner provides comment in this article.


The true cause of the opioid epidemic

New research supports the idea that economic distress led to an increase in opioid abuse, but some say the origins of the epidemic are far more complicated. Keith Humphreys, the Esther Ting Memorial professor and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is quoted in this piece.


Experts say the keto diet isn't sustainable, so why is it so popular?

This article explores the keto diet and quotes Christopher Gardner, the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor and professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center.


Global carbon emissions growth slows, but hits record high

The Global Carbon Project, led by Rob Jackson, reports that rising natural gas and oil use increased carbon dioxide emissions for a third straight year.


Predicting mental health using datasets from Born In Bradford (BiB) project

A link between levels of “bad” cholesterol at birth and subsequent childhood behavior could help identify people prone to mental difficulties.


Medical students surveys health of nomadic African group, thanks to goats

This post discusses how many health surveys omit nomadic African populations, leaving them undercounted for aid and resources. Michele Barry, senior associate dean for global health and director of the Stanford Center for Innovation in Global Health, and first-year medical student Hannah Wild, are quoted in this post.


Marking World AIDS Day: A Q&A

In this Q&A, Eran Bendavid, associate professor of medicine, and Philip Grant, assistant professor of medicine, discuss prevention efforts and the importance of addressing the long-term health of people living with HIV.


Building Pathways to Impact

Lisa Goldman Rosas and Mike Baiocchi have been selected to be inaugural Social X-change Fellows, a program that will support faculty members to work in partnership with the public, private, and social sectors in tackling social problems using human creativity, rigorous evidence, and innovative technology. Lisa will be focused on food insecurity, while Mike will be focused on gender-based violence.


"Honorary Skou Professor" from Aarhus University awarded to Victor Henderson

Victor Henderson,  Professor of Health Research & Policy has received the title "Honorary Skou Professor".  The Honorary Skou Professor title was created in honor of Nobel Laureate and Professor Jens Christian Skou (1918-2018) with the aim of recognizing the importance and strengthening research collaborations across national boarders and universities. 47 professors worldwide have received this designation, representing 36 universities and 12 countries; 40 were on hand for inauguration ceremonies on October 8th on the Aarhus University campus.


'Sugar Tax' on sweet treats could slim waistlines

A new study suggests that a tax on sugary snacks could have an impact on weight loss. Lisa Chamberlain, professor of pediatrics, and Jayanta Bhattacharya, professor of medicine, who were not involved with the research, provide comment in this article.


Researchers question whether dirty air could spur a rise in mental illness

Looking at data on millions of people in the United States and Denmark, researchers found correlations between air pollution exposure and rates of certain psychiatric disorders. John Ioannidis, the C.F. Rehnborg Professor and a professor of medicine and of health research and policy, provides comment.


An ingenious microscope could change how quickly disease is detected

This article discusses Octopi, a microscope that can analyze blood samples 120 times faster than a traditional microscope and can lighten the load of overworked lab technicians. The microscope was created by Manu Prakash, associate professor of bioengineering, and graduate student Hongquan Li.


ACE Abraham Lilienfeld Award

Steven N. Goodman, M.D., M.H.S., Ph.D., Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research, Professor of Medicine and Health Research and Policy, and chief of the Division of Epidemiology received the 2019 Abraham Lilienfeld Award from the American College of Epidemiology (ACE), epidemiology’s primary professional organization. This award is the ACE’s most prestigious recognition and is given in honor of Abraham Lilienfeld, a pioneer in epidemiology, renowned teacher, and founder of the College. Recipients of this award are senior leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to the field of epidemiology over the course of their careers, through research, scholarship, teaching and mentoring.


How many steps should you take a day?

Humans are moving less than ever. Humans, once in constant motion as hunters and gatherers, are moving less than ever. At first, this trend seemed like progress: Transferring our heavy and dangerous work to animals, then machines, enabled more people to live longer. As recently as the 1950s, doctors considered exercise dangerous for people over age 40; for heart disease, which was then killing a record number of Americans, they prescribed bed rest. 
Abby King, professor of medicine and of health research and policy, provides comment.


The Heat: Opioid crisis

Keith Humphreys, the Esther Ting Memorial Professor and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, participated in a roundtable discussion about the epidemic use of opioids and efforts to fight addiction.


How to reduce air exposure to pollution

This piece discusses ways to reduce exposure to air pollution. Kari Nadeau, the Naddisy Foundation Professor of Pediatric Food Allergy, Immunology and Asthma, professor of medicine and of pediatrics, and director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy & Asthma Research at Stanford, is quoted here.


Stanford researchers propose a way to build nature into cities for better mental health

An international team led by Stanford University and the University of Washington is working to bring the mental health benefits of nature to city-dwellers.  To do so, the team has created a way of helping city planners, landscape architects, developers and others anticipate the mental health impacts of conserving nature and incorporating it into urban areas. 


Paul Wise heads up global initiative to boost humanitarian health response to violent conflict

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences recently appointed Stanford professor of pediatrics Paul Wise and two other global health experts to lead a new initiative, Rethinking the Humanitarian Health Response to Violence Conflict, to develop new strategies to protect civilians, health care and cultural heritage in areas of extreme violence.


Randomized Clinical Trials (RCTs) will never be enough

In this video, Dr. Mark Cullen, Director for the Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences, discusses the limits of randomized trials to produce the evidence needed for clinical and public health interventions, and evolving methods to produce evidence comparable to that of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) from observational data. (skip to 4:00) WATCH NOW


The health effects of wildfire smoke may last a lifetime

This piece discusses a recent study on the harmful effects of wildfire smoke and includes lead author Mary Prunicki, instructor of medicine.


Stillbirth linked to more childbirth complications for mom, Stanford study finds

Life-threatening delivery complications are more than four times as common during and after a stillbirth than a live birth, and some of these complications are more than 10 times as likely with stillbirths, a new Stanford study has found.

The research, which was published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, is the first large, population-based study to ask whether stillbirth puts women at greater risk than live birth. The researchers used data from more than 6 million California births between 1999 and 2011.

"We really need to start thinking more about the quality of maternity care for women whose pregnancies don't result in a live birth," said Elizabeth Wall-Wieler, PhD, the lead author of the new study. Maternal complications in stillbirth have seldom been studied because stillbirths themselves are rare, affecting six of every 1,000 births, she said.”


U.S. 'gag rule' linked to 40% jump in abortions in parts of Africa

New research finds that U.S. foreign policy that cuts money to nongovernmental organizations performing or promoting abortions abroad has actually led to an increase in abortions, because loss of funding cuts availability of contraceptives, with unwanted pregnancies the result. The study, which was led by Eran Bendavid and Grant Miller – both associate professors of medicine – and doctoral candidate Nina Brooks, is highlighted here.


Burns in India; Emergency care improving, but patients often too injured to benefit

India suffers more than twice the number of deaths per year as a result of burns than any other country globally. Women suffer disproportionality from self-inflicted burns and are more likely to die from their injuries.

Jennifer Newberry, MD, JD, a Stanford emergency medicine physician and researcher, and collaborators are working to understand and help those affected by burns in India. Their study, published in BMJ, provides insight into the need for greater mental health and gender-based violence support services for women in India.


Your zip code is a better indicator of lifespan than genetics, says Stanford Dean of Medicine

In a recent interview, Dean Lloyd Minor discussed the vision of precision health and how healthcare systems should be asking themselves not how to cure people but how to help them be healthy.


Senators seek drop-in centers for youth in mental health crisis

A bill making its way through the California legislature seeks to establish 100 youth drop-in centers across the state to support young people with mental health, substance use and physical health issues. Steven Adelsheim, clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing, is quoted in this article.


Big data, from computer models to clinic, is focus of conference

What can big data do for you?

That was the question animating the seventh annual Big Data in Precision Health Conference, which ran May 22-23 at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge. The event drew health care and data experts from across industry, academia and government to the School of Medicine.


Study shows how big data can be used for personal health

Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine and their collaborators followed a cohort of more than 100 people over several years, tracking the biology of what makes them them. Now, after collecting extensive data on the group’s genetic and molecular makeup, the researchers are piecing together a new understanding of what it means to be healthy and how deviations from an individual’s norm can flag early signs of disease.


Gender inequality and rigid norms linked with poor health, global research shows

Rigid gender expectations hurt everyone’s health. A series of papers in the Lancet works to clarify how this happens and spur improvements. The series was led by Gary Darmstadt, professor of pediatrics and associate dean for maternal and child health at Stanford.


Wildfire smoke worse for kids' health than smoke from controlled burns

Immune markers and pollutant levels in the blood indicate wildfire smoke may be more harmful to children’s health than smoke from a controlled burn, Stanford researchers found. Mary Prunicki, instructor of medicine, is lead author of the study, and Kari Nadeau, the Naddisy Foundation Professor of Pediatric Food Allergy, Immunology and Asthma, professor of medicine and of pediatrics, and director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy & Asthma Research at Stanford, is senior author of the study.


How the microbiome might predict diabetes, premature birth and gut diseases

A growing body of research is finding links between how diet, weight, and environmental exposures, among other things, can affect the mix of bacteria that make up our microbiomes. Michael Snyder, the Stanford W. Ascherman, MD, FACS, Professor and chair of genetics, is quoted in this story.


To get kids and adults to exercise, here's what works

Abby King, professor of medicine and of health research and policy, shares evidence-backed strategies to get people to exercise more and sit less.


mHealth resources for cancer survivors need to be personalized

mHealth apps that promote physical activity and exercise could be a great benefit to cancer survivors, according to European researchers – but few mobile health resources currently exist for that particular population. Lorene Nelson,  phs associate faculty director and associate professor of health research and policy, is quoted in this article.


Health in the rural West: Workshop explores how digital tools can help

The Digital Health in the Rural American West workshop addressed health disparities that are often overlooked and understudied in the vast region. Dean Lloyd MinorLisa Chamberlain, associate professor of pediatrics; Mark Cullen, professor of medicine, of biomedical data science and of health research and policy, senior associate dean of research in the School of Medicine, and director of the Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences; and Abby King, professor of medicine and of health research and policy, are mentioned in this post.


Congratulations Biomedical Data Science (BDS) Opioid WorkingGroup!

The BDS Opioid Working Group, led by PHS Assistant Faculty Director Suzanne Tamang, has won the "Best Poster Award" at the Seventh International Conference on Learning Representations.  The group, using data from PHS data partner Foundation for Precision Medicine, presented their poster, "A Knowledge Graph-Based Approach for Exploring the US Opioid Epidemic."  Team members include, Maulik R. Kamdar, Tymor Hamamsy, Shea Shelton, Ayin Vala, Tome Eftimov and James Zou. 

For more information on the poster, contact Shea Zhao, Co-chair, Stanford University Statistics for Social Good.


Senators seek drop-in centers for youth in mental health crisis

A bill making its way through the California legislature seeks to establish 100 youth drop-in centers across the state to support young people with mental health, substance use and physical health issues. Steven Adelsheim, clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing, is quoted in this article.


Genetic roots of psychiatric disorders clearer now thanks to improved techniques

New technology and access to large databases are fundamentally changing how researchers investigate the genetic roots of psychiatric disorders. This post highlights a recent commentary written by Laramie Duncan, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, that explains how genome-wide association studies have demonstrated the inadequacy of previous methods.


Congratulations PHS postdoc Tome Eftimov for winning "Hot Off the Press" Award

PHS Postdoc Tome Eftimov was selected as the "Hot Off the Press" winner by the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO 2019), for his paper Understanding Exploration and Exploitation Powers of Meta-heuristic Stochastic Optimization Algorithms through Statistical Analysis. The award showcases a recently published article in top-tier journals based on the scientific quality and the relevance to the GECCO community. Each year only 10 papers with most innovative and new ideas are selected. GECCO together with IEEE CEC are the largest conferences related to stochastic optimization algorithms. The paper was published in the top 5% of ranked Computer Science journals (“Information Sciences”). 


The long and winding road to mental health care for your kid

Steven Adelsheim, clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Stanford Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing, is quoted in this article that discusses the limited access to psychiatrists and therapists.


Redrawing the Frontiers of Population Health and Medicine

In this LinkedIn post, Dean Lloyd Minor explores the promise of precision population health, an effort that uses data to identify health challenges and intervene before they develop into medical emergencies.


Congratualtions "2018 Best Young Scientist" Tome Eftimov

PHS Postdoc Tome Eftimov has recieved the "2018 Best Young Scientst" Award from Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov.  


The common denominator to improving health in developing countries: Democracy

Most studies that look at whether democracy improves global health rely on measurements of life expectancy at birth and infant mortality rates. Yet those measures disproportionately reflect progress on infectious diseases — such as malaria, diarrheal illnesses and pneumonia — which relies heavily on foreign aid.

A new study led by Stanford Health Policy's Tara Templin and the Council on Foreign Relations suggests that a better way to measure the role of democracy in public health is to examine the causes of adult mortality, such as noncommunicable diseases, HIV, cardiovascular disease and transportation injuries. Little international assistance targets these noncommunicable diseases.


Explore steps you can take to talk to your doctor and get the most of your health care

During this Facebook Live discussion, VJ Periyakoil addressed how patients can talk to their doctor about what matters most to them. Periyakoil is associate professor of medicine and director of palliative care education and training.


The microbiome: The next target in cancer therapy

This piece examines the role of the microbiome in cancer immunotherapy. Ami Bhatt, assistant professor of medicine and of genetics; Tessa Andermann, postdoctoral research fellow in infectious diseases; and Andrew Rezvani, assistant professor of medicine, are mentioned in this article.


Which blood-based method works best to detect TB?

Scientists at Stanford and beyond are working toward a new type of tuberculosis diagnostic that utilizes blood samples. In a recent study, Purvesh Khatri, associate professor of medicine and of biomedical data science, and Niaz Banaei, associate professor of pathology and medicine, compared several of these techniques.


Immune cell turned biomarker: Prediciting severity of lung scarring

By crunching a massive amount of patient data, scientists have found a marker that can predict survival of a life-threatening lung disease. The disease, called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, develops without warning and leads to irreversible scarring in the lungs, ultimately cementing the stretchy tissue over time until it can no longer expand.
Now Purvesh Khatri, PhD, and Nigam Shah, PhD, associate professors of medicine and of biomedical data science, have found a biomarker that flags which patients with pulmonary fibrosis are most at risk for imminent lung failure.  A paper detailing the research was published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. Khatri and Shah are the senior authors, and graduate student Madeleine Scott is the first author.


Flagging a cholesterol-raising disease using AI

Stanford researchers have created an algorithm to detect familial hypercholesterolemia, a hard-to-diagnose genetic disease. Joshua Knowles, assistant professor of medicine, and Nigam Shah, associate professor of bioinformatics and PHS's  Analytics working group co-chair, share senior authorship of the research.


Study:  Primary care doctors increase life expectancy, but does anyone care?

Sanjay Basu, an assistant professor of medicine, faculty fellow at the Center for Population Health Sciences at Stanford,  is quoted in this article on the declining number of primary care physicians in the U.S.


There's a serious problem plaguing some older people: Loneliness

This article discusses how new approaches are needed to address loneliness among the elderly. VJ Periyakoil, associate professor of medicine and director of palliative care education and training,  & faculty fellow, stanford center for population health sciences, is quoted here.


Simple tuberculosis test

A new inexpensive tuberculosis test could identify infection in kids, people with HIV/AIDS and others who can't take the routine test


Taking on poor air quality in South Asia brick by brick

This post highlights a story in the latest issue of Stanford Medicine magazine, that describes how Stephen Luby is working to improve air quality by reforming a production in Bangladesh and South Asia. Luby is a  professor of medicine and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.


How can doctors be sure a self-taught computer is making the right diagnosis?

This segment discussed the promises and pitfalls of applying artificial intelligence (AI) to medical care. Matthew Lungren, assistant professor of radiology and associate director of the Stanford Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine and Imaging, and graduate student Pranav Rajpurkar, who developed a deep learning algorithm that evaluates chest X-rays for signs of disease, were featured. The work of  Nigam Shah, associate professor of bioinformatics and PHS's  Analytics working group co-chair, and Stephani Harman, clinical associate professor of medicine, on the use of AI in palliative care, is also referenced here.


Climate change and suicide

In warmer temperatures suicide rates increase, leading to concerns about an uptick in suicides as the globe continues to warm.
Adding to the concern, a Stanford study led by economist Marshall Burke also finds a link between increased temperatures and suicide rates.


The opioid epdemic is increasingly killing black Americans.  Baltimore is ground zero.

As Baltimore sees an increase in drug overdose deaths, city officials are trying to take steps to get people into care. Keith Humphreys, the Esther Ting Memorial Professor and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, is quoted in this story.


Women diagnosed years later than men for some diseases

For a wide range of diseases, diagnosis comes later in life for women than for men.  Professor of medicine & PHS Sex and Gender working group co-chair, Marcia Stefanick, provides comment.


Stanford scientists have measured the human "exposome" or the particulates, chemicals and microbes that individually surround us all, in unprecedented detail

Senior author Michael Snyder, co-chair of the PHS Gene Environment and the Stanford W. Ascherman, MD, FACS, professor and professor and chair of genetics, and Chao Jiang, a postdoctoral fellow in genetics, are featured in this video.


Sanjay Basu on how precision medicine can transform global health care

The email to Sanjay Basu, an assistant professor of medicine, faculty fellow at the Center for Population Health Sciences at Stanford, appeared out of the blue. A senior United Nations official working on the ground in the Middle East had come across research that Basu had done on more effective ways for public health systems to improve patient outcomes through more personalized care.


Climate change can affect nutrient content of crops, harming human health

Elevated carbon dioxide levels may lead to reductions in the nutrients in common crops such as barley, wheat and rice, increasing malnutrition, according a study co-authored by PHS affiliated faculty member, Eran Bendavid, associate professor of medicine.


The common denominator to improving health in developing countries: Democracy

A new study led by Stanford Health Policy's Tara Templin and the Council on Foreign Relations suggests that a better way to measure the role of democracy in public health is to examine the causes of adult mortality, such as noncommunicable diseases, HIV, cardiovascular disease and transportation injuries. Little international assistance targets these noncommunicable diseases. 


Gestational age estimated without a scan

Preterm birth is a leading cause of death among children under the age of five, with low resource countries facing the greatest challenge. Gary Darmstadt, professor of pediatrics in neonatal and developmental medicine, provides comment.


Sub-Saharan Africa is not on pace to reach goals for neonatal mortality reduction

The relatively slow pace of neonatal mortality reduction could prevent most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa from achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG-3) by 2030, according to a study published March 12 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Ivan Mejia-Guevara, senior research scientist with the Center for Population Health Sciences of Stanford University, and colleagues.


Promoting safer routes to school through citizen science

Documenting the safest routes to walk to school through a phone app can increase the likelihood that kids will bike or walk to class. Abby King phs' working group co-chair , professor of health research and policy and of medicine, led the study.


The consequences of teen motherhood can last for generations

This article discusses new research looking at the multigenerational effects of adolescent motherhood on school readiness. The study is co-written by several public-health scholars, including Elizabeth Wall-Wieler, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Pediatrics. She is quoted here.


Life threatening birth complication rate increasing across US racial, ethnic groups

Study shows racial and ethnic disparities in severe maternal morbidity, and life-threatening maternal complications associated with childbirth have persisted and increased at high rates among U.S. women. The study was led by Stephanie Leonard, postdoctoral research fellow in neonatal and developmental medicine.


Resilience in children

A Stanford Graduate School of Education (GSE) study identifies factors that promote executive function skills like impulse control or ignoring distractions in disadvantaged kids facing adversity. 


A skeptical look at popular diets: Hurrah for raw food?

In the sixth post in the series A Skeptical Look at Popular Diets, Randall Stafford, professor of medicine and director of the Program on Prevention Outcomes and Practices, along with Christopher Gardner, the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor and a professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and PHS' chair of the Food and Nutrition working group, examines the pros and cons of a raw food diet. 


These states have been hit the hardests by America's opioid epidemic

While there's early evidence that the explosive rate of opioid deaths has started to slow, opioids killed more than 49,000 people in the United States in 2017, according to preliminary data. A new study reveals which part of the country has been affected the most by the ongoing epidemic. Lead author Mathew Kiang, a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University's Center for Population Health Sciences, is quoted in this article.


Genetics in education

GSE scholars Benjamin Domingue & faculty fellow at the Center for Population Health Sciences and Sam Trejo are encouraging discussion about the role genetics research should play as it expands into education.


More primary care physicians leads to longer life spans

Life expectancy grows when there are more primary care physicians in the field.  But their numbers are shrinking, according to a study led by Sanjay Basu, assistant professor of medicine, faculty fellow at the Center for Population Health Sciences.


A skeptical look at popular diets: How ketogenic should you go?

In the fourth post in the series A Skeptical Look at Popular Diets, Randall Stafford, professor of medicine and director of the Program on Prevention Outcomes and Practices, along with Christopher Gardner, the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor and a professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and PHS' chair of the Food and Nutrition working group, examines pros and cons of a ketogenic diet.