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College of
Health Sciences

Lester Kirchner

Professor and Chair
Department of Population Health Sciences

Adjunct Associate Professor
Global Immigrant Health Section
Department of Pediatrics
Baylor College of Medicine

Henry Hood Center for Health Research Building
100 North Academy Avenue
Danville, PA 17822-4400
Phone: 570-214-9825

H. Lester Kirchner, PhD

Research Interests

I came to Geisinger in 2007 after spending over 7 years at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in the Department of Pediatrics. At CWRU, I collaborated with research groups studying sleep apnea in adolescents and adults, and behavior and cognitive outcomes from infancy to adolescence in children exposed in-utero to illicit drugs. Since joining Geisinger, I have served as the senior biostatistician in the Medicine Institute, chaired the IRB (2011-2022), and sit on several committees including our Faculty Affairs Committee. In January 2020, I was appointed as the chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences, a multidisciplinary department of epidemiologists, biostatisticians, and health service researchers with a mission to make research matter to our community.

My formal training is in biostatistics with experience analyzing data from electronic health records (EHR), longitudinal studies, observational data for making casual inferences, and designing pragmatic clustered randomized trials. Currently, I am the site PI for the PaTH Clinical Data Research Network, a PCORnet site. The PaTH network has harmonized EHR and claims data across 7 institutions allowing for access to a diverse patient population for large-scale observational and pragmatic studies. In addition, I am site PI and Co-I on an NIDDK funded grant with a goal to develop of a predictive model to identify high risk patients for readmission among patients with diabetes (PI: Rubin, R01DK122073) and of a study to enhance phenotype definitions using NLP and to perform genetic analyses of sleep apnea and insomnia (PI: Cade, NHLBI R01HL153805).  

Geisinger has one of the largest biobanks, the MyCode Community Health Initiative (MyCode). We leverage genomic and EHR data to study the genetic architecture of chronic conditions and how to incorporate genomic data for clinical purposes. One example is the multi-site analysis I am leading in the PsycheMERGE network (PI: Smoller J, Davis L, NIMH R01MH118233) to estimate the association of polygenic risk scores of psychiatric conditions (bipolar, schizophrenia, major depression disorder) with healthcare utilization. 

Geisinger has supported the philosophy of a learning healthcare system through their constant innovation and implementation of new care delivery models. Related to this effort is the practice of rigorous evaluation of new clinical programs. I currently lead the evaluation for several large clinical programs and co-chair the newly formed Implementation and Evaluation Steering Committee. 

Recent Publications

  • Finucane B, Oetjens MT, Johns A, Myers SM, Fisher C, Habegger L, Maxwell EK, Reid JG, Ledbetter DH, Kirchner HL*, Martin CL* (*joint senior authors). Medical Manifestations and Healthcare Utilization among Adult MyCode Participants with Neurodevelopmental Psychiatric Copy Number Variants. Genet Med, 2022; 24(3):703-711. PMCID: PMC8901449
  • Raghunath S, Pfeifer JM, Ulloa Cerna AE, Nemani A, Carbonati T, Jing L, vanMaanen D, McCarty BE, Hartzel DN, Ruhl JA, Stoudt NJ, Johnson KW, Zimmerman N, Leader JB, Kirchner HL, Griessenauer C, Hafez A, Good CW, Fornwalt BK, Haggerty CM. Deep Neural Networks Can Predict New-Onset Atrial Fibrillation from the 12-lead ECG and Help Identify those at Risk of Atrial Fibrillation-Related Stroke. Circulation, 2021; 143(13):1287-1298. PMCID: PMC7996054
  • Mandalakas AM, Hesseling AC, Kay A, Du Preez K, Martinez L, Ronge L, DiNardo A, Lange C, Kirchner HL. Tuberculosis Prevention in Children: A Prospective Community-Based Study in South Africa. European Resp J, 2021, 57(4):2003028. PMCID: PMC8060782
  • Buchanan AH, Kirchner HL, Schwartz MLB, Kelly MA, Schmidlen T, Jones JK, Hallquist MLG, Rocha H, Betts M, Schwiter R, Butry L, Lazzeri AL, Frisbie LR, Rahm AK, Hao J, Willard HF, Martin CL, Ledbetter DH, Williams MS, Sturm AC. Clinical Outcomes of a Genomic Screening Program for Actionable Genetic Conditions. Genetics in Medicine, 2020, 22:1874-1882. PMCID: PMC7605431
  • Garg T, Young AJ, O’Keeffe-Rosetti M, McMullen CK, Nielsen ME, Murphy TE, Kirchner HL. Association between Metabolic Syndrome and Recurrence in Older Adults Treated for Non-Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer. Urologic Oncology, 2020; 11:S1078-1439(20)30150-2. PMID: 32409197


PhD, University of Iowa 1999
MS, University of Iowa 1996
BS, Central Michigan University 1993
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