Population Science Research

The overall goal of the population science research at our Institute is to reduce pancreatic cancer morbidity and mortality by addressing cancer disparities and enhancing cancer prevention and control interventions in patients with pancreatic cancer and in populations at increased risk for pancreatic cancer. Population science studies at the Institute focus on how macro-environment (factors outside an individual and exposures in the places where a person lives) can impact tumor biology, patient behaviors, treatment and survival outcomes. These macro-environmental factors can include social determinants of health such as education, economics, access to care/resources, social/community context, built environment and environmental toxic exposures.

To enhance collaborations between population science, clinical and laboratory research centered around the exploration of how environment impacts pancreatic cancer biology, treatment, and survival outcomes, our researchers have developed a multilevel cancer database that links together neighborhood social determinant of health data with lifestyle, genetic, biospecimen, electronic medical record, cancer registry and patient survey data. Researchers in population health have utilized machine learning methods to develop pancreatic cancer risk prediction models in population-based cohort studies and conduct geospatial analysis to study pancreatic cancer health disparities and identify communities in need of education related to pancreatic cancer. In addition to risk identification, there has also an emphasis on understanding the impact of built environment (access to health foods), diet, and exercise on treatment outcomes and survival among pancreatic cancer patients among our population scientist members.