Population Studies research


The goals of the Population Studies and Disparities Research (PSDR) Program include identifying risk factors underlying disease onset and progression, and developing and testing intervention strategies to reduce risk and improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes. These goals are aimed at decreasing race and ethnicity related disparities and overall disease burden. 

Scientific Themes

The PSDR Program themes encompass research to reduce and eliminate disparities across the cancer experience of adult and pediatric populations, and include a diversity of race/ethnic groups. 

  • Theme 1: Investigate the distribution and determinants of cancer and cancer risk, survivorship and outcomes with attention to racial and ethnic disparities
  • Theme 2: Examine patient, family member, physician and community interactions and behavior to understand and conduct interventions to address cancer risk, treatment and outcomes with attention to reducing and eliminating racial and ethnic disparities

Program Activities

Members of the Population Studies & Disparities Research Program regularly interact in several ways to develop scientific directions and implement strategic planning efforts including:

  • A PSDR Program Committee meets monthly to discuss strategic directions, research collaborations, plan seminars and retreats, and address general programmatic issues as they arise
  • Monthly faculty meetings to discuss epidemiological and communication/behavioral research in progress
  • Monthly PSDR research meetings and seminar presentations directed at the entire program membership
  • Yearly thematic research retreats are held with distinguished national speakers invited to give keynote addresses and faculty and post doctoral fellows presenting their latest research findings
  • KCI-wide annual scientific retreat
  • PSDR members are engaged in several KCI Research Groups to develop program projects applications.
  • A major effort underway is the PSDR Survivorship Working Group, this team is conducting a pilot cohort study of KCI-based African American and white cancer cases and family members to provide preliminary data for a planned P01, to be submitted in 2015
  • Members participate in the KCI Lung Cancer Research Group, the Lung Cancer SPORE planning group, the Breast Cancer Research Group and the Prostate Cancer Research Group

Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER)

The metropolitan Detroit area is home to a highly diverse and medically underserved population.  As part of the original SEER program of nine registries dating back to 1973, we contribute approximately 38% of the national cancer incidence and survival data for African Americans.  The SEER registry is not only used for descriptive studies; it provides a population-based source of cases for case-control and case-case comparisons. There are ~25,000 new cancers diagnosed in Metropolitan Detroit each year, with about 25% of those being diagnosed in African Americans.  In addition to the large African American population, this area is home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the United States.  This population diversity provides a remarkable opportunity for the study of race/ethnicity related health disparities.  All of the research described is conducted in this context and includes substantial numbers of minorities.

Program Leadership

Hayley Thompson Ph.D.,
Program Leader, Population Studies & Disparities Research
Associate Professor in the Department of Oncology,
Wayne State University School of Medicine
Karmanos Cancer Institute
Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer, PhD, MPH
Co-Leader of the Population Studies and Disparities Research Program
Associate Professor in the Department of Oncology,
Wayne State University School of Medicine
Karmanos Cancer Institute
Michael Simon, M.D., MPH
Co-Program Leader, Population Studies & Disparities Research
Leader, Karmanos Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Team
Karmanos Cancer Institute
Wayne State University