Cedars-Sinai Launches New Division of Population Sciences Research

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 24, 2023) — The Cedars-Sinai Department of Biomedical Sciences has established a new division that is charged with developing a deeper understanding of the impact of social, behavioral and environmental risk factors on human diseases.  

Investigators working in the new Population Sciences Research Division conduct intervention trials to reduce the risk of disease, address health disparities and translate research into actionable information that closes healthcare gaps.

The division is led by Robert W. Haile, DrPH, MPH, director of the Cancer Research Center for Health Equity, Cedars-Sinai Chair in Cancer Population Health Sciences, and a widely respected expert in cancer epidemiology and genetic epidemiology.

“Population sciences incorporates both basic and clinical sciences that address the disease burden and help move the needle to lower incidence and mortality rates and provide survivors with a better quality of life,” Haile said. “As we conduct research, we ultimately hope to help influence policy, both locally and statewide, that improves health.”

During his tenure at Cedars-Sinai, Haile has helped lead a broad spectrum of research in cancer disparities, from molecular and genetic to behavioral, as well as research-driven community outreach and engagement.

“We are excited to be laying the foundation for the newly minted Division of Population Sciences Research under the leadership of Dr. Haile,” said Shlomo Melmed, MB, ChB, executive vice president of Academic Affairs and dean of the Medical Faculty at Cedars-Sinai. “Our Population Sciences Program in Cancer is a core strength here at Cedars-Sinai and we are committed to continue growing our population sciences research to other disciplines.”

Highlighting Disparities

Using sophisticated statistical analyses, Haile’s team recently uncovered a high incidence of advanced breast cancer in local neighborhoods with large Korean populations. 

As a result of the research, the team recently launched a study called Faith in Action!, a church-based navigation model to increase breast cancer screening among Korean women.

The navigators are church members who are trained by experts to provide breast cancer screening navigation to Korean American women within faith-based settings. The investigators evaluate whether the culturally adapted curriculum increases adherence to breast cancer screening guidelines. Preliminary results have already demonstrated an increase in mammography adherence from a baseline of 0% to 68%.

Cedars-Sinai has extensive experience in population science. Other Cedars-Sinai Cancer investigators have analyzed genetic factors, or molecular markers of cancer, that drive cancerous tumors and found evidence suggesting those might differ by race, ethnicity.

Investigators from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai have found that Black people are almost three times more likely to live five miles or more from a cardiac rehabilitation facility, which can greatly hinder a person’s quality of life after a major cardiac event such as heart attack or heart failure. 

“Cedars-Sinai’s large, diverse community, rich repository of patient data and highly skilled team positions the institution to become an international leader in the field of population sciences research,” said David Underhill, PhD, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences and the Janis and William Wetsman Family Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. 

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