PSB 2018 Workshop: Integrating Community-level Data Resources for Precision Medicine Research

Dana C. Crawford, PhD and William S. Bush, PhD
Institute for Computational Biology, Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, Case Western Reserve University
Contact Us: wsb36[at]


Precision Medicine focuses on collecting and using individual-level data to improve healthcare outcomes. To date, research efforts have been motivated by molecular-scale measurements, such as incorporating genomic data into clinical use. In many cases however, environmental, social, and economic factors are much more predictive of health outcomes, yet are not systematically used in clinical practice due to the difficulties in measurement and quantification. Advances in both the availability of electronic health information, environmental exposure data, and the more systematic use of geo-coding now provide ways to systematically assess community-level indicators of health, and link these factors to electronic health records for evaluating their influence on disease outcomes. In this workshop, we will introduce attendees to new electronic sources of community-level data, and provide insight into their utility and validity when compared with gold-standard data collection approaches.


What you will learn:
This workshop will provide an interactive discussion-based forum for community-level data collection and evaluation techniques. Specifically, our speakers will discuss:

  1. The use of online map applications for accessing neighborhood attributes and compare this approach to more traditional “ground truth” approaches
  2. The use of Geographic Information Systems for assessing pollutant exposure
  3. Text-based indicators of social stress from electronic health records

We will discuss both traditional ways of collecting community-based health factors, and contrast these with new “big data” approaches for gathering the same types of information, with an emphasis on their relative strengths and weaknesses.


Workshop Organizers:

William S. Bush, Ph.D.

William S. Bush, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Assistant Director for Computational Methods in the Institute for Computational Biology at Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Bush received his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University in Human Genetics in 2008 and then continued as a post-doctoral fellow in the Neurogenomics Training Program at Vanderbilt. Dr. Bush was recently named a Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation Scholar. As a human geneticist and bioinformatician, Dr. Bush’s research interests include understanding the functional impact of genetic variation, developing statistical and bioinformatics approaches for integrating functional genomics knowledge into genetic analysis, and the use of electronic medical records for translational research. Dr. Bush has interacted closely with classically trained epidemiologists and community-based intervention specialists, such as those in the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods.

Dana C. Crawford, Ph.D.

Dana C. Crawford, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Case Western Reserve University and Assistant Director for Research Applications in the Institute for Computational Biology. Her expertise is in the interface of genetic epidemiology and big data biomedical informatics. Her laboratory also examines environmental modifiers of genetics associations, including precision medicine traits. She was PI of the Epidemiologic Architecture for Genes Linked to Environment (EAGLE), a study site of the NHGRI-funded Population Architecture using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) I study, and was PI of the electronic MEdical Records & GEnomics (eMERGE) Network Coordinating Center. She has conducted several studies examining ways of using electronic health record data to infer other social determinants of health.