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New Project Offers Real-World Case Studies to Teach Big Data Lessons to Help Solve Pressing Health Issues


Program aims to help public health practitioners deploy data science tools amid growing demand for virtual education resources

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have developed a series of case studies for urgent public health issues to help students and practitioners across the U.S. learn how to apply big-data analysis approaches in their work.

Released today at the third annual Bloomberg American Health Summit, which brings together national innovators and experts to discuss how to repair and transform the nation’s public health system, the Open Case Studies project provides an interactive online hub comprised of ten case studies that use real-world public health data to explore five critical American public health challenges. This project also provides tools and guidance on visualizing, testing, analyzing, and structuring data. The Open Case Studies project is funded by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative.

“Big data and analytics are increasingly crucial to public health research,” says Stephanie Hicks, PhD, the project’s leader and an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Biostatistics. “Yet there is a gap between the amazing tools and those who want to use them. We hope these new case studies will help bridge that gap.”

The Bloomberg American Health Initiative focuses on five of the most pressing public health challenges facing the U.S.: addiction and overdose, adolescent health, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, and violence. The 10 case studies draw from Bloomberg School experts and are organized into these five areas:

Addiction and Overdose

  • Vaping Behaviors in American Youth
  • Opioids in the U.S.

Adolescent Health:

  • Disparities in Youth Disconnection
  • Mental Health of American Youth

Environmental Challenges:

  • Exploring CO2 Emissions Across Time
  • Predicting Annual Air Pollution

Obesity and The Food System:

  • Exploring Global Patterns of Obesity Across Rural and Urban Regions
  • Exploring Global Patterns of Dietary Behaviors Associated with Health Risk


  • Influence of Multicollinearity on Measured Impact of Right-to-Carry Gun Laws
  • School Shootings in the U.S.

The Open Case Studies project is meant to be particularly valuable for students and educators in online learning environments. The project’s website provides detailed explanations of the case studies, including a “which case study is right for me” guide, as well as links to each case study.

“The Open Case Studies project is a dynamic resource for students who want to understand how to work with real-world public health data,” says Michelle Spencer, MS, associate director of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. “Our nation is facing so many critical public health challenges. By empowering students and practitioners to use data-centric approaches, we are giving them more tools to solve these challenges.”

Visit the Open Case Studies project website at:

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Media contacts: David Kohn at and Barbara Benham at