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Department of Population Health Sciences

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Department chair :
Lester Kirchner, PhD : 570-214-8688

The Department of Population Health Sciences works to discover novel ways to prevent disease and promote health, with a focus on the health conditions that most impact Geisinger patients, health plan members, and communities. We conduct innovative research to understand the risk factors of the disease and develop strategies to improve healthcare delivery. Our interdisciplinary faculty study a range of health conditions, collaborating with Geisinger clinicians and community partners and leveraging extensive data resources, including longitudinal electronic health records and insurance claims, geocoded data on the social and physical environment of communities, and genotyped and whole-exome sequencing data.

Core focus areas include:

  • Epidemiology: Examining the extent and distribution of the health conditions that most impact our patients and communities and identifying the factors that put populations at risk for disease
  • Biostatistics: Applying advanced quantitative analysis to observational data to draw valid conclusions from research studies, application of machine learning for the development of predictive models, and linking health and genomic data to understand the genetic architecture of complex diseases
  • Health and behavioral outcomes research: Detecting, preventing and controlling chronic conditions through the study of health-related behaviors, healthcare practices and health-related quality of life
  • Environmental health: Evaluating how the surrounding built, natural and social environment impacts health and enables or constrains the influence of healthcare
  • Health economics: Conducting comparative effectiveness research to identify the healthcare interventions that offer the greatest benefit at the lowest cost


H. Lester Kirchner, PhD


Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD
Joseph Boscarino, PhD, MPH
Alexander Chang, MD, MS
Tullika Garg, MD, MPH
Jamie A Green, MD, MS
Jing Hao, PhD, MD
Annemarie G Hirsch, PhD, MPH
Yirui (Iris) Hu, PhD
Anne Justice, PhD
Sean O’Dell, PhD
Melissa N. Poulsen, PhD, MPH
Brian S. Schwartz, MD, MS
Agnes Sundaresan, MD
Erin Van Enkevort, PhD
Brent Williams, PhD

Staff scientists

Geetha Ghittoor, PhD

Recent publications

B T Keenan, H Kirchner, O J Veatch, K M Borthwick, V A Davenport, M Gendy, F Pack, L Sirikulvadhana, B A Malow, T I Morgenthaler, P C Zee, J D Robishaw, S F Derose, A I Pack. Multi-Site Validation of a Simple EHR-based Algorithm for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. JCSM (in press) *co-lead authors

DOI: 10.5664/jcsm.8160

Schmidlen T, Schwartz M, DiLoreto K, Kirchner HL, Sturm AC. Patient Assessment of Chatbots for the Scalable Delivery of Genetic Counseling. J Genet Couns (in press)
PMID: 31549758

Hirsch AG, Nordberg C, Bandeen-Roche K, Tan BK, Schleimer RP, Kern RC, Sundaresan A, Pinto JM, Kennedy TL, Greene SC, Kuiper JR, Schwartz BS. Radiologic sinus inflammation and symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis in a population-based sample. Allergy. 2019. In press.
PMID: 31713250

Hirsch AG, Nordberg C, Tan BK, Schleimer RP, Kern RC, Sundaresan AS, Pinto J, Kennedy TL, Greene S, Kuiper JR, Schwartz BS. Prevalence of sinus CT opacification in a population-based sample. Allergy 2019; in press.
DOI: 10.1111/all.14106

Carruth ED, Young W, Beer D, James CA, Calkins H, Jing L, Raghunath S, Hartzel DN, Leader JB, Kirchner HL, Smelser DT, Carey DJ, Kelly MA, Sturm AC, Alsaid A, Fornwalt BK, Haggerty CM. Prevalence and Electronic Health Record-Based Phenotype of Loss-of-Function Genetic Variants in Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy-Associated Genes. Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine (in press);
PMCID: PMC6726131

Full publication list

Department news

Recent promotions:
Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD – Associate Professor, effective Dec. 1, 2019