Faculty Research Highlights
Princeton faculty engage in an array of multidisciplinary research projects investigating health and health policy issues at home and abroad. This research is carried out through centers, programs and initiatives across the University.
For a comprehensive picture of the extensive global health research activities at Princeton, review links to the Global Health Initiative's Current Research Projects.
For a snapshot illustrating the depth and breadth of Princeton’s current global health research, below are five featured projects:
Using Vital Statistics Natality Data to Assess the Impact of Environmental Policy: The Examples of Superfund, the Toxic Release Inventory, and E-ZPass
In this study Janet Currie is investigating the extent to which geocoded Vital Statistics Natality data collected from birth certificates can be used to assess the impact of environmental policy changes. These records cover millions of births (in fact all births) over long periods of time. They include information about maternal background and birth outcomes as well as information about the precise residential location of mothers. Moreover, birth records can be linked to infant death records to yield large samples of infant deaths. Given residential addresses, it is possible to link mothers to information about nearby environmental hazards. It is also possible to link births to the same mother, so that the effect of changes in potential exposure can be assessed. The hypothesis being investigated is that these large and comprehensive data sets can shed useful light on the effects of environmental policy. The specific policies to be investigated include cleanups of hazardous waste (Superfund) sites, changes in information about toxic releases as tracked in the Toxic Release Inventory, and the implementation of E-ZPass at toll plazas on busy roadways in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Common Property Problems in Health
Combining biology and economics, Simon Levin and Ramanan Laxminarayan are examining the challenge of drug resistance within the broader context of common-property problems in infectious disease. Their goal is to see how incentives and norms interact in the context of clinical practice. In collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners, researchers are studying the epidemiology of antibiotic use in US hospitals and investigating whether they can change medical doctors’ prescribing behavior by providing them with information on their own practices in relation to that of other physicians. This study helps to delineate the role of information in altering healthcare providers’ motivation, and it helps determine whether this intervention is effective. More
Princeton Physical Sciences-Oncology Center
Princeton University physical scientists and engineers are partnering with researchers at four other institutions to explore the driving forces behind the evolution of cancer under a five-year, $15.2 million award from the National Cancer Institute. The Princeton Physical Sciences-Oncology Center was launched Oct. 26, 2009, as one of 12 centers in the institute's new network of Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers. The center's goal is to understand the explosive evolution of cancer under stress at a deep theoretical and experimental level by leveraging the strengths of an interdisciplinary team of physicists, engineers, chemists, biochemists and oncologists. Using a physics-based approach, the team intends to better grasp the rules or laws that govern how cancer evolves, which may one day inform entirely new treatment approaches. Collaborating institutions are: the University of California-San Francisco; the Johns Hopkins Hospital; the University of California-Santa Cruz; and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California. More
The Governance of Infectious Disease in Southern Africa
Evan Lieberman has been studying the determinants of the quality of the governance of infectious disease in Southern Africa. His project, which has involved wide student participation as part of a Health Grand Challenge grant, has sought to document the trajectory of budgetary outlays and service delivery outputs within and across countries; and to better understand citizen and politician policy preferences and behaviors. The research has included analyses of national budgetary data, the content of public speeches, public and elite opinion surveys; and in-depth case study methods. Future experimental research will investigate the effects of ethnic cues on the risk perceptions of citizens and politicians. More
Health, Wellbeing and HIV/AIDS
Anne Case is researching the wellbeing of the elderly in South Africa, where a particular concern is how the burden of HIV/AIDS is affecting older individuals. Case and her research group are using data from six large integrated household surveys from two sites in South Africa between 2002 and 2006 to analyze the ways in which costs associated with illness and death affect the wellbeing of households, household economic stability, and the survival of the household as a unit.
Other Global Health Research
For a comprehensive picture of the extensive global health research activities at Princeton, review links to the Global Health Initiative's Current Research Projects carried out through various centers, programs and initiatives across the University.