From the Director

OCTOBER 22, 2018

Fall Welcome

Dear Colleagues,

As we all embark on the new academic year, the Center for Population Health Sciences (PHS) would like to share several new initiatives and invite you to fill your calendar with upcoming events and reach out to get involved.

For the next several months, much energy will  focus on large-scale projects enjoying ongoing support.  This includes the public availability of our American Manufacturing Cohort (AMC) data--longitudinal administrative and health data for over 230,000 U.S. manufacturing workers and their spouses and dependents to investigate occupation as a critical source of exposures impacting  economic and health outcomes over the life course. We are also focusing on the development of a health information exchange in Solano County that the we expect will expand to all counties in the Bay Area. This initiative--BRIDGES (Bay Area Research Innovation Discovery: Governance, Evaluation and Sustainability)--is a collaboration between public health departments and their constituents, community clinics, health systems, and academic researchers to develop infrastructure and processes for scalable aggregation, interoperability and secure sharing of a variety of data including EHR structured and unstructured data to address research questions of public health importance (for more information, please contact the project's PI, Dr. Lorene Nelson).  We also continue to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to take a deep dive into understanding the role of gender norms in sex-specific morbidity and mortality, and a Lancet paper series will soon present preliminary results. We continue collaborative research and accepting proposals for data available through our partnerships with Clalit, Born in Bradford and Denmark.

At the same time a myriad of new projects are taking form:

  • Assessment of the relative health impacts of controlled fires--the best known prevention for the current fire crisis--versus the respiratory and cardiac risks of the wildfires which result in the absence of such burns. A  new fellowship in environmental health will commence with generous support from Kari Nadeau’s lab.  
  • We will collaborate with the Alzheimer’s Disease Center to study new population aspects of the epidemic, including the role that work factors play in long term risk for dementia, and the disparities in social supports and care among different ethnicities. Two recent grant supplements from the National Institute on Aging will support this work.


  • Our Office of Community Engagement has embarked on several major cancer-related initiatives with support from the Cancer Center and PCORI. These include the Peer Navigator program to raise awareness of breast cancer among African American women in the East Bay and the war on melanoma; a proposal to address the potential benefits of targeted “Precision Health” efforts among Latinos in Salinas is under evaluation as this multi-faceted effort expands exponentially.


  • Efforts to better understand the epidemic of opioid abuse, suicide and other “diseases of despair” are accelerating in collaboration with the Veterans Administration and with colleagues at UC Berkeley. Several projects are burgeoning, boosted by the recent visit of Edmon Begoli from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which has taken the national lead in data management for governmental agencies.

Behind each of these successes lies the continued growth and success of our data core. We have been flattered in recent days by requests to share our technology with many peer institutions, the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a host of domestic and foreign NGOs. Indeed, the data core and its infrastructure and data governance has resulted in the enthusiastic invitation to launch a satellite data center in India, likely to occur early in this academic year. This will undoubtedly be the subject of a forthcoming symposium in which we look forward to your participation. Stay tuned!

—Mark Cullen, MD, PHS Director