Population and Precision Health Initiative (PPHI)

The concept of “precision medicine” promises a new era of biomedical research and its application in health care, enabled by rapid advances in biomedical sciences, including genomics and bioinformatics, as well as the progress in communication, information technologies and data science.

The Population and Precision Health Initiative (PPHI) at the University of Chicago is leveraging and integrating these advances and resources within the context of a broader “population health” research perspective to improve the ability to prevent disease, promote health and reduce health disparities in Chicago and beyond.

The focus of the PPHI at the University of Chicago is on applying various emerging technologies and methods of precision medicine at a population level, including the Chicago Multiethnic Prevention and Surveillance Study (COMPASS), the All of Us Research Program at UChicago, and ongoing clinical studies in the Epidemiology Research and Recruitment Core, in a manner that will facilitate scientific breakthroughs in “precision” prevention, treatment, and health promotion.

Why was the PPHI established?

The 2015 U.S. Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) promised a new era of biomedical research and its application in health care. The initiative is enabled by rapid advances in biomedical sciences, including genomics and bioinformatics, as well as the progress in communication, information technologies and data science. These same technologies are ushering in a parallel era of “precision public health” that goes beyond individualized treatment of sick individuals.

The word “precision” in the context of public health can be simply described as improving the ability to prevent disease, promote health and reduce health disparities in populations by: 1) applying emerging methods and technologies for measuring disease, pathogens, exposures, behaviors, and susceptibility in populations; and 2) developing policies and targeted public health programs to improve health.


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    Ongoing work at the University of Chicago, and particularly in the Center for Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention/EpiCore, is consistent with national goals and is complementary to the national efforts.This work is being led by Habibul Ahsan, MD, Louis Block Professor of Public Health Sciences, Medicine, and Human Genetics.

    Dr. Ahsan’s group has developed expertise in recruiting for projects and collecting data (both surveys and biosamples) in diverse populations historically thought to be difficult to reach. Through extensive community engagement efforts, diversity and disparities trainings, and hands-on learning experience, his team consistently reaches some of the most at-risk and marginalized groups in Chicago in both the medical center and in the community. Dr. Ahsan has worked with investigators across the institution and the Illinois Precision Medicine Consortium to leverage cohort building efforts to achieve the scientific aims delineated by the PMI.

    In this context, Dr. Habib Ahsan, has established the University of Chicago Precision and Population Health Initiative (PPHI). The PPHI program currently includes a multiethnic population-based cohort (COMPASS) and a variety of in-clinic protocols implemented by the Epidemiology Research and Recruitment Core. All projects include the collection of survey data and biosamples and employ a concerted effort to recruit minority participants.

    As a part of this program, Dr. Ahsan’s team will be also be supporting recruitment for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded All of Us Research Program, a participant-engaged, data-driven enterprise supporting research at the intersection of human biology, behavior, genetics, environment, data science, computation and much more to produce new knowledge with the goal of developing more effective ways to treat disease.


Principal Investigator
Habibul Ahsan, MD, Louis Block Professor of Public Health Sciences, Medicine, and Human Genetics

Habibul Ahsan, MD, Louis Block Professor of Public Health Sciences, Medicine, and Human Genetics

Co-Investigators
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