Eric Westhus, Ph.D.

Assistant professor; Director of academic programs in health data science
Saint Louis University Center for Health Outcomes Research

Courses Taught

Introduction to Biostatistics for Health Outcomes Research, Foundations o Outcomes Research I, R Programming


  • Ph.D. in integrated and applied sciences: biometry from Saint Louis University
  • M.S.(R.) in biology from Saint Louis University
  • B.S. biology from Hope College

Research Interests

  • Influences of food deserts on chronic diseases
  • Patterns of prescription opioid dose escalation around incident depression
  • Spatial patterns of chronic disease incidence under expected climate change scenarios

Publications and Media Placements

Community Work

Westhus has worked with a wide variety of data within industry, non-profit, and academic settings. At the environmental consulting company MACTEC, Inc. (now Amec Foster Wheeler) he collected, managed, analyzed, and presented data from field observations, GPS equipment, GIS databases, and CAD drawings to catalog biodiversity and assess ecological impacts from civil engineering projects and other human activities. As a data manager for the Brookfield Zoo he created a database for husbandry and behavioral data to improve the health and breeding success of collection animals. Working as a graduate student in SLU's interdisciplinary Ph.D. program, he cleaned and organized mosquito population records (collected by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services' arbovirus monitoring program), and used this data to construct scalable population growth models for these important disease vectors.

Since joining SLUCOR and the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Westhus has turned his expertise with complex, dynamic, ecological systems to improve patient health outcomes. In collaboration with researchers in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, he is constructing spatially implicit models of the influence of food deserts and crime rates on chronic diseases within SLUCare patients. Additionally, through an affiliation with the Veteran's Health Administration of Columbia, Mo., he is modeling patterns of prescription opioid dose escalation around incident depression in military veterans.

As an educator, Westhus has taught statistics at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, and at SLUCOR. He has also lead several workshops on the R programming language at these institutions, and taught Conservation Biology for UMSL.