Skip navigation

The Basu Lab @Stanford


Welcome! Our group conducts research in the field of public health policy and planning. We specifically address questions about how public health programs can better prevent chronic diseases that disproportionately affect low-income communities and are commonly treated in primary care clinics. These questions include: how can changes to nutrition programs reduce population-level disparities in obesity and type 2 diabetes? Which fiscal and regulatory policies affecting food, tobacco and alcohol consumption are most effective in reducing cardiovascular disease rates? Which social and economic policies reduce the risk of disease and disability among low-income families? How can primary healthcare systems better identify and treat chronic conditions before they result in preventable complications? Many of these questions span multiple populations and cross international borders.

Our unique contribution to this field is to address these questions by developing and applying novel mathematical modeling and statistical techniques. We have developed approaches to integrate extremely large-scale data describing social, demographic, economic, and policy changes with health outcomes from diverse populations across the globe. We then analyze these data using novel modeling and statistical strategies that address persistent challenges such as complex time-varying confounders and biases; feedback loops between disease risk factors, treatments, and outcomes; and statistical dilemmas unique to extremely large datasets. We use models that integrate insights from econometrics, computer science, and operations research to address questions that traditional medical and public health studies cannot directly answer, such as how to optimize the delivery of health programs under limited budgets and rapidly-changing epidemiological conditions. At a theoretical level, this work has helped develop an understanding of 'resilience'--or how health systems can minimize morbidity and mortality despite 'shocks' to the community such as dramatic changes in social conditions (e.g., urbanization, mass migration), economies (e.g., financial crises, rising inequality), and risk exposures (e.g., the industrialization of food systems). Read more...