Population Health Science

The Population Health Science Program in the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery seeks to improve primary care practice and advance population health science through health care delivery research.

The program's interdisciplinary scientific team comprises experts from primary care medicine, health services research, biostatistics, epidemiology, social and behavioral science, and public health. Led by clinical and research faculty members, the Population Health Science Program is grounded in epidemiological, health services and behavioral research. Program researchers are focused on:

  • Describing disease burden and relevant health outcomes among target populations
  • Identifying and characterizing the determinants of health outcomes in populations
  • Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of health care delivery in primary care
  • Evaluating the impact of primary care on patient behavior, access to care and use of services
  • Evaluating the impact of community-based interventions on population health

Areas of focus

Population Health Science Program staff, collaborators and scholars are focusing their research efforts on improving health and health care among residents of southeastern Minnesota and the surrounding region, including Mayo Clinic patients, employees and their dependents.

The program has three approaches to improve health in these groups:

  • Health promotion and disease prevention. Focus areas include tobacco use and smoking cessation, vaccination, and prevention and treatment of obesity.
  • Early detection. Focus areas include screening for cancer, chronic disease risk factors, prediabetes, adverse childhood experiences and substance abuse.
  • Disease management. Focus areas include wellness coaching, care coordination, palliative care and symptom management, and multimorbidity.


Population Health Scholars Program

The Population Health Scholars Program, one of the center's two scholars programs, provides training and mentoring in community and population health research at Mayo Clinic. The three-year program, which welcomed six new Mayo clinician-scholars in 2014, provides a unique opportunity to learn how to obtain grants, conduct research and publish study findings that advance population health science.

Population approaches to vaccine delivery

The Olmsted County Community Health Needs Assessment lists vaccine-preventable diseases as one of the top five community health priorities. Vaccines are among the most cost-effective clinical preventive services. The Population Health Science Program is working on a number of projects related to vaccine delivery in the community, including:

  • Exploring changes in pediatric influenza rates over time
  • Examining the effectiveness of influenza vaccines in preventing pandemic influenza infection
  • Determining immunization coverage among children of Somali immigrants and refugees
  • Identifying multilevel influences on HPV vaccination initiation and completion
  • Evaluating response to immunization recall letters

Review related publications on PubMed.

Implementation of pharmacogenomics into clinical practice

Genetic modulation of drug response can cause serious, potentially life-threatening adverse drug reactions, can increase susceptibility to drug-drug interactions, and can diminish or enhance therapeutic efficacy. The clinical implementation of pharmacogenomics at the bedside could make it possible to avoid adverse drug reactions and maximize drug efficacy. Ideally, selection of medications based on the genetic profile of individual patients will produce optimal effects for specific indications, improve the patient experience and reduce health care costs.

Mayo Clinic's Right Drug, Right Dose, Right Time — Using Genomic Data to Individualize Treatment (RIGHT) protocol study is the largest and most extensive pre-emptive pharmacogenomics study in the world and is designed to assess the effect of pharmacogenomics on clinical practice. The Mayo Clinic Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery is partnering with the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine in this study.

Review related publications on PubMed.

Watch Pharmacogenomics: Right drug, right dose, right time in the Mayo Clinic Medical Professional Video Center.


Lila J. Rutten, Ph.D.

  • Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Scientific Director for Population Health Science
  • Email: rutten.lila@mayo.edu

Jennifer St. Sauver, Ph.D.