Our Story

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine was founded in 1970 with four areas of excellence: medical education, patient care, research and community service. Caring for the communities of central and southern Illinois is SIU Medicine’s mission, and the School of Medicine aims to improve the health of residents across its 66 county service region.

In 2016, SIU Medicine launched the Office of Population Science and Policy to advance its social mission and find innovative solutions to improve health beyond the confines of the hospital and clinical walls. Led by a group of pioneering changemakers, the Office of Population Science and Policy quickly became a dynamic and growing organization focused on making real change in Illinois communities.

In July 2018, The Office of Population Science and Policy became fully integrated as an academic department in the School of Medicine, the first new department in more than 30 years. Under continued leadership of Founding Chair Dr. Sameer Vohra, the Department of Population Science and Policy now consists of three divisions: Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Human and Community Development and Health System Science. Each division consists of uniquely talented personnel who help our team better understand the region’s needs, work with communities to increase capacity to created programs/interventions to lead to health outcomes improvement and create policies that institutionalize sustainable change. All three divisions work with our education team to create a population science and policy curriculum to educate a new generation of physicians to practice through the lens of population health.

The Department of Population Science and Policy is a young department in a new but growing field of similar population health-focused organizations. The Department has partnered with many organizations and communities throughout Illinois and the country and looks forward to continuing to research, create interventions, shape health policy and educate a new generation of physicians to practice through the lens of population health.


The Department of Population Science and Policy (PSP) works to understand the health challenges of people in central and southern Illinois and provides innovative, sustainable solutions to improve health in their communities.

PSP is invited into communities by local stakeholders and changemakers to:

  • Provide workshops, focus groups and community training
  • Collect, organize and analyze data
  • Conduct community needs assessments
  • Identify and implement solutions to improve health
  • Inform and improve local, state and national policies

Service Region

The Department serves a 66-county, mostly rural region in central and southern Illinois. The service region includes 32,000 square miles and approximately 2.2 million people.

Studies show that rural residents may experience decreased life expectancy and increased disease-specific mortality as compared to their urban peers.

Learn More

Watch a video featuring Dr. Vohra explaining the importance of population health, explore PSP's academic presentations and publications or read recent news about Population Science and Policy.