News & Announcements Archive

Controversial sugar industry study on cancer uncovered

A new paper published in the journal PLOS Biology, reveals that a 1960's study, which suggested a link between a high-sugar diet & high blood cholesterol levels & cancer in rats, was sponsored by the sugar industry.  Health Disparities working group co-chair Sanjay Basu provides comment.

Personalized Health Conference cultivates international, interdisciplinary collaborations

Michael Snyder, co-chair of the PHS Gene-Environment Interaction working group was one of the guest lecturers at the conference, which explored the use of biomedical data to improve the precision of health care.

Sanjay Basu Publishes Textbook

Health Disparities working group co-chair Sanjay Basu publishes new textbook, Modeling Public Health and Healthcare Systems.  This is a vital toolkit for understanding change in 21st century healthcare and public health.

Physician-academics help assess humanitarian and medical response in war-torn Iraq

Paul Wise, co-chair of the Preconception, Pregnancy, & Early Childhood working group recently returned from Iraq where he witnessed what humanitarian health care workers and Iraqi physicians were up against during the grueling battle for Mosul.  A new health and security initiative at Stanfor aims to address the humanitarian needs in populations that are affected by conflict and political stability.

What vets want at the end of life is very different from what civilians want

VJ Periyakoil, clinical associate professor of medicine and director of the Stanford Palliative Care Education & Training Program, provides comment in this piece about end-of-life care for military veterans.

What happens when you put 500,000 people's DNA online

U.K. Biobank has published a massive genetic database that offers non-preferential access to researchers all over the world.  Manny Rivas, assistant professor of biomedical data science provides comment.

Sex, gender in medical research

Londa Schiebinger, Sex and Gender in Health Research Working Group co-chair led a group of researchers and found that medical research teams that include women more often account for sex and gender in their work.

Is health care ready for routine DNA screening?

Michael Snyder, co-chair of the PHS Gene-Environment Interaction working group, provides comment on a massive new trial looking at widespread genomic screening as a preventative medical measure.

Global pandemics affect us all

Paul Wise, co-chair of the First 1,000 Days of Life working group and Michele Barry, senior associate dean of global health wrote a recent Stanford Health Policy essay about the global impact of deadly pandemics.

Driving the longevity discussion

The Stanford Center on Longevity's Laura Carstensen, co-chair of the Work-Life, Retirement, Disability Aging and Cognitive Decline working group celebrates 10 years of driving the discussion on longevity!

How one small change helped people make healthier choices

Health Disparities working group co-chair Sanjay Basu's illustrates how enviornmental factors affect health behaviors.  Our health is affected by the decisions we make every day, and promoting healthy choices could dramatically stem the growing tide of chronic disease around the world.

New Stanford study takes steps toward integrating brain imaging into psychiatric care

Leanne Williams, co-chair of the PHS Health Behavior group is one of the researchers on the study that has developed a standard metric for healthy brain network functioning.

Welcome to the new academic year from PHS Faculty Director, Mark Cullen

PHS Faculty Director Mark Cullen welcomes PHS members and friends to the new academic year by highlighting the Center's upcoming events, exciting new research partnerships (in India, the Czech Republic, and with the Federal Statistics Research Data Center) and new leadership staff.

Better medicine for women

PHS Sex and Gender working group co-chair, Marcia Stefanick discusses why giving consideration to sex and gender differences in research and treatment would improve care for everyone.

Alcoa and work-life policy

Alcoa data provides a rich source of occupational exposure, health, medical claims, human resources, and workplace safety information spanning over 20 years for a cohort of 230,000 manufacturing workers and their spouses/dependents. Linkages to other national datasets allow researchers to investigate cradle-to-grave life course questions such as the role of early life, job exposures, company wellness and insurance policies, and more on health and economic outcomes. See the policy brief linked below for an example of the results and policy implications of three recent Alcoa studies of workplace exposures and work longevity. For more information about Alcoa data, contact Erika Tribett at

Exploring the capitation reimbursement model for primary care

Health Disparities working group co-chair Sanjay Basu's research examined whether capitation payment models could help primary care practices shift from traditional fee-for-service systems to ones based on population health management.

Successful annual SPHERE Mini-Symposium

On August 14, 2017, Stanford Precision Health for Ethnic and Racial Equity (SPHERE) held an annual meeting and Mini-Symposium to showcase community, clinical, and expert perspectives on precision health. SPHERE is one of five centers nationwide to address precision health and health disparities, with the goal of reducing disease in minority population. The Symposium was attended by a diverse audience of 275 included SPHERE leaders, collaborating partners, Stanford Healthcare and research community, and community members surrounding Stanford. For those who were unable to attend the Symposium, the following YouTube videos capture the events of the day.

Differential DNA methylation and lymphocyte proportions in a Costa Rican high longevity region

PHS Faculty Fellow and Gene-Environment working group co-chair, David Rehkopf, has recently published a paper exploring an interesting group of individuals who may possess unique immune cell proportions as well as distinct diferences in their epigenome, at the level of DNA methylation.

Does the answer to better patient care lie in machine learning?

Researchers are integrating machine learning techniques into patient care to help doctors make better decisions. In this article, Analytics working group co-chair, Nigam Shah, associate professor of medicine and of biomedical data science, comments on a new approach developed by researchers at MIT.

Immune system changes during pregnancy are precisely timed

Preconception, Pregnancy and Early Childhood working group co-chair, Gary Shaw, recently co-authored a study which completed the first-ever characterization of the meticulously timed immune system changes in women that occur during pregnancy.  The findings, which were published Sept. 1 in Science Immunology, reveal that there is an immune clock of pregnancy and suggest it may help doctors predict preterm birth.

New data portal

PHS is proud to announce a revamped portal! The new data portal includes an updated look, improved structure of the content, and most importantly, tools that allow you to explore our datasets with more ease and speed than ever before. You can now view summary statistics of any variable in large datasets and join tables to create your cohorts in seconds rather than hours. For any questions, suggestions, feedback or comments, please email us., reveal that there is an immune clock of pregnancy and suggest it may help doctors predict preterm birth.

Doctors must dig into gender difference to improve women's health care

PHS Sex and Gender working group co-chair, Marcia Stefanick, addresses gender bias in medical research, drug development and health care in a recent article featured in Scientific American.  Subscription is required to view the article.  Please contact Alyssa Tamboura at for a copy.

Researchers help develop technique for assessing, reducing risk of future stroke

PHS Faculty Fellow and Analytics working group co-chair, Nigam Shah, in conjunction with his collaborators, have used data from thousands of stroke patients to develop an algorithm to help predict which patients should be monitored for a second stroke.

India's government imposes 40% sin tax on colas to discourage use

India has instituted a tax on sweetened beverages to discourage consumption and prevent the negative health impacts of products with high sugar content. Sanjay Basu, assistant professor of medicine and Health Disparities working group co-chair, provides comment in this piece.

Austerity measures have led to significant health declines

Health Disparities working group co-chair Sanjay Basu argues in this commentary in Social Science & Medicine that austerity measures adopted after the global financial crisis has led to significant health declines among those whose leaders don't conisder them worthy of economic aid.

Experimenting on slaves

Londa Schiebinger, Sex and Gender in Health Research Working Group co-chair examines the development of medical knowledge and experiments conducted on slaves in British and French colonies between the 1760s and early 1800s. 

Citizen Science Effort is Empowering Communities to Advance Health Equity

This blog post and accompanying video hightlight the efforts of Stanford's Our Voice, a program that facilitates local comunities' efforts to make healthy changes.  The mHealth & Other New Technologies for Health working group co-chair Abby King leads the program.  

Medscape:  5 FAQs about machine learning in medicine

The Learning Health System and the Science of Care Delivery working group co-chair Steven Asch references a recent New England Journal of Medicine commentary discussing machine learning in medicine.

Foreign aid cutbacks could harm health of Americans, Stanford health policy researcher argues

PHS affiliated faculty member Eran Bendavid writes that "U.S. forgeign aid for health has arguably been the single most important driver of the last 20 years' health improvements in developing countries."

Investing in food as medicine: Food pharmacies debut from coast to coast

"Doctors theselves are an important target population in all of this. We want them to practice what they are then able to preach." Christopher Gardner, chair of the Food and Nutrition Health working group is quoted in this story.

The problem with fitness studies based on activity APPS

PHS working group co-chair Abby King and Scott Delp found by analyzing data captured by smartphones, Stanford Researchers have identified gaps in activity levels and obesity levels between genders and countries. 
Articles: Counting Steps, Large-scale physical activity

Researchers help develop technique for assessing, reducing risk of future stroke

PHS working group co-chair Nigam Shah and his collaborators used data from thousands of stroke patients to develop an algorithm to help predict which patients should be monitored for a second stroke.

Population Health Sciences awards $275,000 in pilot grants to 11 projects

The Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences has awarded 11 additional pilot grants to investigators with studies that seek to improve population and community health, bringing the year's total to 16.

U.S. malaria donations saved almost 2 million African children

The President’s Malaria Initiative, started in 2005, has saved the lives of nearly two million children, according to a new analysis of mortality rates in 32 countries.  PHS affiliated faculty member Eran Bendavid has written an accompany editorial and is quoted in the NYT article- Malaria control adds to the evidence for health aid effectiveness.

One in five 'healthy' adults may carry disease-related genetic mutations

Michael Snyder, co-chair of the PHS Gene-Environment Interaction working group, is the author on a recently published study arguing that whole-genome sequencing should be "automatically" incorporated into primary care."

Effective, Scalable, and Affordable Strategies for Mental Health

Leanne Williams, co-chair of the PHS Health Behavior group is one of the co-investigators participating in Strategies for Mental Health. The Stanford Catalyst for Collaborative Solutions funds interdisciplinary teams in bacterial diagnostics, sustainable oceans and mental health.

How sex and gender differences should be part of medical education, research and care

The practice of medicine would be so much simpler if humans came in only one sex — and for most of the past century, doctors and researchers have behaved as if that were the case. One challenge for researchers is simply measuring gender, said Marcia Stefanick, PhD, director of the Stanford Women and Sex Differences in Medicine Center.

Algorithms will drive future health gains, Dean of Stanford Medical School predicts

Medical science blazed new paths of innovation with the development of vaccines and antibiotics, and new ways of treating heart disease and cancer. Going forward, continued advances in medicine and health increasingly will be tied to the ability to interpret massive amounts of data, according to Dr. Lloyd Minor, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine. “We are now at the point where innovation is at the algorithmic level,” he said.

Fitness trackers accurately measure heart rate but not calories burned

PHS affiliated faculty member and cardiology researcher Euan Ashley, with his team, have conducted a study to determine how accurately seven types of fitness trackers measure heart rate and energy expenditure.  The study showed that six out of seven devices measured heart rate within 5 percent. None, however, measured energy expenditure well.

Scientists crowdsource data to pinpoint autism resource gaps in U.S.

PHS pilot grant award winner, Dennis Wall, has created a new crowdsourcing tool aimed to map all the locations around the world, beginning with the United States, where individuals with autism live to determine which communities need more resources for diagnosis and treatment of condition.

Steve Asch appointed editor-in-chief of world's premiere primary care journal

The Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) has appointed Stanford Health Policy's Steve Asch as an editor-in-chief.  JGIM is the highest rated journal for primary care research in the world.  It publishes research on health services, implementation science, medical education and the humanities in addition to primary care.

Want to solve a health challenge?  Ask for help

Stanford School of Medicine Dean, Lloyd Minor, showcases the importance and proven advantages of cross-disciplinary collaboration in a recent post on LinkedIn.  As a guiding principle at the Center for Population Health Sciences, we too agree that "the individual and institutional benefits of different brains interacting and iterating together is defining the future of innovation."

Stanford psychiatrists take to the stage

In Palo Alto, where Asian Americans make up nearly 40 percent of the student population, they also make up roughly 40 percent of youth suicides.  Members of PHS' Adolescent Health working group are working to change that statistic - and turning to an unlikely art form to start the conversation: theater.

Invited speaker at United Nations 

Ivan Mejia-Guevara, senior research scientist with the Center for Population Health Sciences & member of the Mexican Delegation (Advisor) was invited to present his work "Intergenerational Transfers, Economic Growth, and Equity in Mexico" at the recent United Nations Commission on Population & Development 50th Session.

5 Questions: Steven Adelsheim on Santa Clara County youth suicide report

Steven Adelsheim, chair of the Adolescent Health working group, has been involved in several efforts to improve mental health care for young people in the Bay Area.  Dr. Adlesheim recently shared his thoughts on a new federal report on suicides among youth in Santa Clara County.

Stanford joins the University of California BRAID health-research alliance

Stanford University has joined five University of California campuses in a consortium dedicated to removing administrative barriers to sharing research resources, talent, productivity tools and bioinformatics expertise.

PHS Data Partner and Health Disparities co-chair win SPRINT Data Analysis Challenge awards

PHS Data Partner Clalit Health Services and Health Disparities working group co-chair Sanjay Basu have won first and third place respectively in the SPRINT Data Analysis Challenge.  The Challenge, hosted by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) seeks to explore the potential of clinical trial data sharing by bringing together trialists, data analysts and patients to advance health. 

Human health already suffers from climate change and the effects are getting worse, Stanford scholars say

Marshall Burke, chair of the Enviroment and Health working group and Eran Bendavid, PHS affiliated faculty member, discuss what we can expect and how we can mitigate the effects of climate change on health. 

Dean Lloyd Minor cites population health science as a shining light in an uncertain future

In a recent article penned by the Dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, Lloyd Minor highlights the work of PHS Faculty Director Mark Cullen and the ever-growing importance of population health science.

Stanford researchers aim to create global conversations about long, healthy living

The Stanford Center on Longevity's Laura Carstensen, co-chair of the Work-Life, Retirement, Disability Aging and Cognitive Decline working group, has launched an interactive website is designed to further research and to encourage officials, entrepreneurs and members of the public to think about ways of redesigning the human life.

Spectrum awards $1.74 million in pilot grants to 43 projects

Stanford’s clinical and translational research center has awarded funding to teams of multidisciplinary investigators who are tackling health care problems through novel approaches. Spectrum awarded grants in six areas: population health sciences; learning health care innovation; community engagement; medical technologies; predictive tools and diagnostics; and therapeutics. 


These 3 Food Myths Could Be Hurting Your Health, According to a Stanford Nutrition Professor

Christopher Gardner, chair of the Food & Nutrition working group, debunks common misconceptions about healthy eating in Fortune's weekly series Tools of the Trade.


Stanford receives $1.8M from the Sloan Foundation to build an infrastructure for research using “Big Data”

Building on the work of the Analytics working group, the Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences has received a grant from the Sloan Foundation to build a model Data Core which will address current impediments and regulatory hurdles often faced by researchers.  Datasets will be presented in readily discoverable formats and documented on user-friendly portals; useable at low cost and presented with a wide array of analytic tools. To learn more about the project, visit out PHS Data Portal and Initiatives page.


Clalit Partnership Launched

On January 18, PHS welcomed Dr. Ran Balicer, director of the Clalit Research Institute, to Stanford. This visit marked the beginning of a research partnership, including the signing of a memorandum of understanding (pictured). During Dr. Balicer’s visit, PHS engaged researchers from across campus and initiated collaborations for population health research between Stanford and Israel. To learn more about the project, visit out PHS Data Portal and Initiatives page.


Lack of health care, food and shelter typically kill more civilians than bombs and bullets

Paul Wise, co-chair of the First 1,000 Days of Life working group, has published an essay titled "The Epidemiologic Challenge to the Conduct of Just War: Confronting Indirect Civilian Casualties of War" in the Winter 2017 edition of Daedalus. The American Academy of Arts & Sciences devoted its Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 issues of its journal to the theory of Just War. It held its 204th annual meeting at Stanford University in November, with Wise reviewing the main points of his essay.

Wearable sensors can tell when you are getting sick.

New research from Stanford shows that fitness monitors and other wearable biosensors can tell when an individual’s heart rate, skin temperature and other measures are abnormal, suggesting possible illness.  Michael Snyder, PhD, Professor and Chair of Genetics and Co-Chair of the GenexEnvironment working group is the senior author of the study.

Stanford receives $2.4M from the Gates Foundation for two population health studies.

Building on the momentum of the Adolescent Health, Sex and Gender and The First 1,000 Days working groups, Stanford has received $2.4M from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for two studies, which will be led by PHS affiliated faculty member, Gary Darmstadt.  The first study will analyze existing data to assess the relationship between gender norms and the well-being of adolescent girls.  The second study will evaluate the effectiveness of a novel maternal and child health intervention in Bihar.

Targeted approach to type 2 diabetes management proves effective in low-income and middle-income countries.

Sanjay Basu, co-chair of the Health Disparities – Global and Domestic working group, has published a paper “Comparative effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of treat-to-target versus benefit-based tailored treatment of type 2 diabetes in low-income and middle-income countries: a modelling analysis" in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.  The paper explores ethnic variations in diabetes complications and compares a precision-medicine approach to preventing such complications to a standard one-size-fits-all target-based approach.

Stanford researchers find 15 million children in high-mortality hotspots in Sub-Saharan Africa

PHS affiliated faculty member Eran Bendavid has co-authored a study determing that more than 15 million children are living in high-mortality hotspots across 28 Sub-Saharan African countries.  The study, published online Oct. 25 in The Lancet Global Health, is the first to record and analyze local-level mortality variations across a large swath of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Laura Carstensen elected to National Academy of Medicine

PHS working group co-chair Laura Carstensen has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine along with Stanford faculty members Christopher Garcia, Mark Krasnow, Mark Musen and Thomas Rando.


Early-career awards fast track researcher’s studies on poverty and health

Juggling her duties as a clinician and an instructor in family medicine, Rita Hamad is closer than ever to her goal of a research career, with the help of an early-career program and pilot grants.

Sex matters:  Why we shouldn't conduct basic research without taking it into account

In a PNAS opinion piece, published last week, two Stanford faculty are among the authors arguing that sex shouldn't be overlooked in basic research studies.  Marcia Stefanick, professor of medicine and director and co-founder of the Stanford Center for Health Research on Women and Sex Differences in Medicine, and Londa Schiebinger, director of the Gendered Innovations in Sciences, Health & Medicine, Engineering program, take issue with the fact that much of the research that leads to drugs, devices and our conclusions about biology comes from studies conducted on non-human animals and cell cultures without considering their sex.

$9 million grant to establish open-access autism database at Stanford

Dennis Wall, PhD, an autism researcher at the School of Medicine, is leading a new project to establish the largest-ever collaborative, open-access repository of bioinformatic data on autism.

To live longer, men need to embrace their femininity, new research suggests 

In cultures where women excel — racking up academic, professional and extracurricular accomplishments equalling or topping men — men live longer too, said Mark Cullen, MD, the first author of the recently published study that also appears in an abridged, reader-friendly form on Vox.

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