Stanford Precision Health for Ethnic and Racial Equity (SPHERE) Center

Who We Are

The Stanford Precision Health for Ethnic and Racial Equity (SPHERE) Center is one of five national centers funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) at the National Institutes of Health to focus on using precision-medicine tools to improve the health of underserved ethnic and racial groups.

What We Do

The SPHERE Center brings together outstanding investigators from across the School of Medicine and community partners to address fundamental questions about health and disease among minority populations that are often underrepresented in traditional clinical research.

The SPHERE Cores represent a variety of scientific and medical disciplines working together to improve minority health disparities through precision health. The five cores including AdministrationAnalytics and ModelingLaboratoryConsortium, and Implementation, collaborate to ensure the success of the three current projects and future Health Disparities projects taken on by the SPHERE team and partners.

Each of the SPHERE projects addresses a knowledge gap that would allow use of precision health tools to reduce health disparities based on race and ethnicity. 

Our three research projects are:

  • BRAICELET – Bio-Repository for American Indian Capacity, Education, Law, Economics and Technology
  • iPOP – Integrated Personalized Omics Profiling (iPOP) for Obesity and Diabetes Risk in Latino Youth
  • Communicating Cancer Genetics Information – Differential Response of Latino and Chinese Families to Information on Cancer Genetics.



Stanford University's SPHERE Center and the Bio-Repository for American Indian Capacity, Education, Law, Economics, and Technology (BRAICELET). BRAICELET aims to reduce the myriad of health disparities in American Indian populations through the establishment of a first-of-its-kind American Indian Biobank; serving as a conduit for a bio-ethical co-exchange of cultural and scientific practices among indigenous and scientific communities. BRAICELET was established in 2015, in partnership with the Lakota community, Missouri Breaks Industries Research Inc. (MBIRI), Black Hills Center for American Health (BHCAIH) and the SPHERE Center, to optimize learning and exchange of culture, policy and Precision Health practices.

Joe Yracheta, VP of the Native BioData Consortium, the first biobank wholly housed within the jurisdictional  borders of an American Indian Nation.


Tipila (Education): home, rules, social teachings; Staff (Capacity): leadership or earned status; The Big Dipper (Education): use of the stars for calendars for planning (crops and animal migrations), long distance travel and concept of time & space; Turtle (Law): the Grandmother, foundations, the beginning, the first instructions; Drum (Economy): communication, diplomacy and trade.

iPOP: Integrative Personalized Omics Profiling

(iPOP) for Obesity and Diabetes Risk in Latino Youth aims to reduce health disparities by developing and applying ‘omics technologies to more effectively prevent and treat excess weight gain and diabetes risk among Latino children participating in a community based intervention.

Communicating Cancer Genetics:

Communicating Cancer Genetics Information – Differential Response of Latino and Chinese Families to Information on Cancer Genetics. This study aims to fill an important knowledge gap about how ethnic minorities utilize and if they benefit from cancer genetic risk information and related recommendations.

Jennifer Li Pook Than, Snyder Lab Research Scientist, gives a talk on -omics at the annual Tribal Research conference.

More details about SPHERE can be found here.

The Helix Group


The Helix Group at Stanford is directed by Dr. Russ Altman, and focuses on the creation and application of computational tools to solve problems in biology and medicine. Current application projects include the study of structure-function relationships in macromolecular structure, understanding the structure and folding of RNA molecules, and analyzing the relationship of genotype and phenotype, particularly with respect to the response to drugs. Techniques used include knowledge representation, database design, machine learning, natural language processing, physics-based simulation and graph-based modeling/analysis.

Extracting Biomedical Relations from Text

Goal: Develop algorithms using natural language processing techniques to extract biomedical relationships from text.

Grant title: Text mining for high-fidelity curation and discovery of gene-drug phenotype relations.

Links: EBC code is available on github. Gene-Gene application for Deepdive is available on github.


Structural Informatics & Molecular Level Analytics

Goal: We apply artificial intelligence to chemical and protein structural data to gain insight into the molecular mechanisms of pharmacology.

Our current project areas include:

Feature Family: We developed a system for modeling functional sites in protein structures, called FEATURE. FEATURE represents the local 3D environment around sites of interest using many physicochemical properties (at the atomic, molecular, residue, and secondary structure level) collected in radial, spherical volumes centered on the site.

Deep Learning for 3D Structure: We apply the state of the art in deep neural networks to investigate binding relationships between proteins and their small molecule ligands.

RNA Modeling: RNA is a key component in the regulation of biological systems. We seek to better understand the relationships between sequence, structure, and function of RNA in pharmacological contexts.

WSmall molecule drugs are the foundation of pharmacy. We seek to apply and advance the state of the art in chemical informatics methodologies, using small molecule structure data to predict properties, activities, and clinical outcomes. Our primary areas of interest are cancer, tropical diseases, drug metabolism, and dug-drug interactions.


The Office of the Senior Associate Dean for Research develops policies and practices to advance rigorous and transformational research at the School of Medicine. Serving as a resource and providing support services for researchers to advance cutting edge ideas, the Research Office aims to accelerate discovery and amplify the impact of Stanford innovation to lead the biomedical revolution in Precision Health. Resources can be found here.



Shares Native wisdom, tribal research, policy and community stories to shape the future of tribal nations. The data and ideas shared will empower tribes to use their sovereignty to implement programs and policies that work, build research capacity and create sustainable opportunities for 7 generations of Native people. RED Talks is founded by Missouri Breaks located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

Improving Health Through Self Awareness

In this RED Talk, Dr. Michael Snyder of Stanford University shares how to live a healthier life by becoming self-aware and being your own advocate. Dr. Snyder also discusses the triad of the immune system, microbiome and metabolism.

NBDC/BRAICELET biobank was invited to present at the 2019 American Public Health Association Conference and shared this mini-documentary.