Healthy Nevada Project: What We've Learned

April 04, 2018

A group of men smiling

As the Healthy Nevada Project expands to 50,000 study participants, researchers are sharing the health insights gleaned from the pilot phase of the project.


Air pollution is a major health factor affecting northern Nevadans, according to data gathered by researchers in the pilot phase of the Healthy Nevada Project, one of the largest population health studies in the country. Today, the project — which began 18 months ago as a partnership between Renown Health and the Desert Research Institute — is expanding to add 40,000 additional participants bringing total enrollment to 50,000 Nevadans.

“We are thrilled to share the first insights from our 10,000-person pilot phase and discuss how we will begin using those results to improve patient care,” says Anthony Slonim, M.D., Dr.PH., FACHE, president and CEO of Renown Health and president of Renown Institute for Health Innovation, a collaboration between Renown and DRI.

Healthy Nevada Project Pilot Phase — and What Happens Next

The pilot phase of the Healthy Nevada Project proved Nevadans are excited to know more about themselves and want to contribute to research that could improve health outcomes for the entire state. The pilot phase enrolled 10,000 participants in less than 48 hours and DNA sample collection from each participant was completed in just 69 working days.

Based on pilot phase data, researchers have seen increased use of regional healthcare services correlated with fluctuations in air quality and so-called “bad air events” such as wildfires and atmospheric inversions. In phase two, Renown IHI will evaluate possible links between genetics and increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments.

Study researchers also announced care providers and scientists will begin working on a number of clinical programs and scientific studies focused specifically on Washoe County’s high age-adjusted death rates for heart disease, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease. Collectively, these conditions among local residents stand at 33 percent above the
national rate.

In the coming months, Renown IHI will begin providing advanced calcium score screenings to pilot phase participants at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. This will allow researchers to examine the link between genetics and calcium buildup in the heart.

Researchers are also evaluating future studies focused on age-related macular degeneration and breast cancer risks in northern Nevada.


Pilot Phase Insights

Fifty percent of pilot study participants responded to a comprehensive, socioeconomic survey, which revealed:

  • High rates of lower respiratory disease in northern Nevada and co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension suggest air pollution in northern Nevada is a confounding and significant factor in health.
  • Study participants had parents who died from cancer and heart disease at a higher rate than the age-adjusted national average.
  • Study participants exercised less than recommended by the American Heart Association and expressed interest in receiving help with behavior modification using diet/nutrition and weight loss tools. In phase two, if study participants choose to complete a follow-up survey, they will have the chance to pick an additional health and wellness app specific to their individual genetic results.

Learn More

To see if you are eligible to participate in the study, to sign up for study updates and for full details on the Healthy Nevada Project, please visit