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510 WARF
610 Walnut St
Madison, WI 53726

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David's Research/Interests

David J. Vanness, PhD

  • Associate Professor


David J. Vanness, PhD has been Assistant Professor of Population Health Sciences in the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health since July, 2003. He was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure in July 2012. He received an AB in economics and government, summa cum laude, from Georgetown University in 1993 and a PhD in economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2000. From 1999 to 2003, he was an Associate/Senior Associate Consultant in the Department of Health Sciences Research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Professor Vanness’ current research focuses on the role that information and uncertainty play in health care decisions at both the "clinical" level (medical decision-making) and "population" level (health care policy; technology assessment and adoption). He applies computational methods to a variety of problems, ranging from using Bayesian models to inform choice of chemotherapy regimens for advanced colorectal cancer based on genetic polymorphism profiles to using “integrative biology” simulations to determine optimal interventions for osteoporosis at the individual and population level.

The core of Professor Vanness' research program focuses on developing methods for integrating multiple sources of evidence and alternative sets of decision-maker preferences into models used for health care evaluation. Much of this work has focused on two clinical areas: colorectal cancer and osteoporosis. In his role as a co-investigator of the National CT Colonography Trial, Professor Vanness is currently collaborating with investigators from the National Cancer Institute CISNET cancer simulation research program to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of virtual colonoscopy. Professor Vanness also is developing advanced Bayesian econometric methods to use pharmacogenomics data to optimize choice of adjuvant chemotherapy for advanced colorectal cancer. Professor Vanness is the principal investigator of a subcontract to develop a complex biology-based simulation for economic evaluation of osteoporosis prevention, in which osteoporosis outcomes are the result of complex interactions of stochastic biological sub-processes, as well as other processes affecting cost and quality of life. Professor Vanness is also developing methods for evaluating health care interventions with heterogeneous treatment effects when decision-makers have preferences for uncertain outcomes that are inconsistent with expected utility maximization. He is currently pilot-testing new methods for identifying attitudes toward uncertainty in a population of patients with prostate cancer.

Courses Taught:  

  • Course Director, Population Health Sciences / Industrial and Systems Engineering 875 “Assessment of Medical Technology” (3 cr.), 2004 Spring, 2005 Fall, 2006 Fall, 2007 Fall
  • Course Co-Director (with Bobbi Wolfe and John Mullahy), Economics / Population Health Sciences 845 “Advanced Topics in Public Finance: Health Economics Seminar” (2 cr.), 2005 Spring, 2006 Spring, 2006 Fall, 2007 Fall
  • Lecturer (2 lectures; Gordon Ridley, Director), Population Health Sciences 650 “Introduction to the American Healthcare System” (3 cr.), 2005 Spring, 2006 Spring, 2007 Spring
  • Lecturer (2 lectures; John Mullahy, Director), Economics / Population Health Sciences 848 “Health Economics” (3 cr.), 2007 Spring
  • Lecturer (1 lecture; Terry Young and Denny Fryback, Co-Directors), Population Health Sciences 375 (formerly PHS 650), “Population Health Sciences, Concepts and Methods” (1 cr.), 2005 Spring, 2006 Spring, 2007 Spring
  • Lecturer (1 lecture; Vicki Bier, Director), Industrial and Systems Engineering 320 “Simulation and Probabilistic Modeling” (3 cr.), 2007 Spring
  • Short Course Instructor (with Chris Hollenbeak), AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting, “Introduction to Bayesian Methods,” 2006 June, 2007 June
  • Short Course Instructor (with Bryan Luce and Chris Hollenbeak), International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, “Bayesian Analysis: Overview,” 2004 May, 2005 May, 2006 May, 2007 May


  • Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Member, Cancer Control Program
  • Paul P. Carbone Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Affiliate, Cancer Health Disparities Initiative
  • Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Member, Community Academic Partnerships Program Steering Committee
  • Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Affiliate
  • Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, Research Collaborator
  • Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET), National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, Affiliate Member, Colorectal Cancer Working Group
  • American College of Radiology Imaging Network, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Member, Outcomes and Economics Subcommittee

Recent Honors/Awards

  • Co-finalist, International Health Economics Association Graduate Student Research Competition, 1999
  • Co-recipient, Association for Health Services Research Award, Best Pre- and Post-Doctoral Research Poster, 1999
  • Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Fellowship, 1994

Select Publications

Vanness DJ and Kim WR. “Empirical Modeling, Simulation and Uncertainty Analysis Using Markov Chain Monte Carlo: Ganciclovir Prophylaxis in Liver Transplantation,” Health Economics, 2002: 11(6), 551-566.

Vanness DJ and Wolfe BL. “Government Mandates and Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: Who is Still Not Covered?” International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, 2002: 2(2), 99-135.

Gluecker TM, Johnson CD, Wilson LA, MacCarty RL, Welch TJ, Vanness DJ and Ahlquist DA. “Extracolonic Findings at CT Colonography: Evaluation of Prevalence and Cost in a Screening Population,” Gastroenterology, 2003: 124(4), 911-916.

Vanness DJ. “A Structural Econometric Model of Family Valuation and Choice of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance” Health Economics, 2003: 12, 771-790.

Huddleston JM. Long KH. Naessens JM. Vanness DJ. Larson D. Trousdale R. Plevak M. Cabanela M. Ilstrup D. Wachter RM. Hospitalist-Orthopedic Team Trial Investigators. Medical and surgical comanagement after elective hip and knee arthroplasty: a randomized, controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2004: 141(1):28-38.

Vanness DJ and Tosteson ANA. Estimating the Opportunity Costs of Osteoporosis in the United States. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, 2005: 21(1):4-16.

Vanness DJ. Tosteson ANA. Gabriel SE. Melton LJ 3rd. The need for microsimulation to evaluate osteoporosis interventions. Osteoporos Int, 2005:16(4):353-8.

Phy MP, Vanness DJ, Melton LJ 3rd, et al. Effects of a hospitalist model on elderly patients with hip fracture. Arch Int Med, 2005:165(7):796-801.

Rongey C, Bambha K, Vanness DJ, Pedersen RA, Malinchoc M, Therneau TM, Dickson ER, Kim WR. Employment and Health Insurance in Long-Term Liver Transplant Recipients. Am J Transplantation, 2005: 5: 1901-1908.

Naessens JM, Baird MA, Van Houten HK, Vanness DJ, Campbell CR. Predicting Persistently High Primary Care Use. Annals of Family Medicine, 2005: 3(4):324-30.

Flynn KE, Smith MA, Vanness DJ. A typology of preferences for participation in healthcare decision making. Soc Sci Med. 2006; 63(5):1158-1169.

Vanness DJ and Mullahy J. "Perspectives on Mean-based Evaluation of Health Care" In: Jones AM (ed), Elgar Companion to Health Economics, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2006.