Michael Davern is an Executive Vice President of Research and Director of Public Health Research at NORC. In this role he oversees the department's public health survey and analytical research for clients that include the federal government and foundations. His expertise includes survey research, public health data, linking surveys with administrative data, Census Bureau data and the use of these data for policy research simulation and evaluation.
Davern's vision is to improve population health by providing policy makers with better information to make decisions. To that end, he analyzes data sources to clearly demonstrate their strengths and weaknesses in assessing the impacts of health policy. His leadership skills are evident in the many complex projects he manages in his multiple roles at NORC. For example, he is currently the NORC Project Director for the Comparative Effectiveness Research Public Use Data Pilot Project, which has already resulted in the release of several public use files created from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) claims datasets (e.g., inpatient, carrier, and Part D) and is preparing to release a fully synthetic claims data file to the public to be used in application development and training. He is currently Principal Investigator of a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development project that is both investigating and cataloging data linkage opportunities for the National Children’s Study. This project is designed to identify, evaluate, select and integrate various extant data sources relevant to the NCS system. These sources are expected to assist in the evaluation of the respondent's survey, biomedical and psychological information, to improve their measurement, and to eliminate the requirement for certain data elements to reduce respondent burden. Moreover, the linked databases are expected to supply key information on the respondents' economic and health characteristics along with corresponding information about the social-economic conditions of the communities in which they live that the respondent would not be able to report in a reliable manner. He also led a multi-organization study bringing together several federal agencies, including CMS and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, to link survey and administrative data to enhance understanding of the strengths and limitations of both types of data for health policy research purposes.
Prior to joining NORC, Davern served as research director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) at the University of Minnesota, where he designed, developed, and managed various health policy research projects for SHADAC staff. These included designing sampling schemes, developing survey instruments, constructing survey weights, imputing missing data, and writing survey documentation for health insurance and health access surveys. He also evaluated and used various national data sources for state-centered research. Additionally, Davern was an investigator working with the Minnesota Population Center's dissemination of U.S. Census (from 1850 to the present), International Census (more than 150 censuses from more than 50 countries), and National Health Interview Survey data through the IPUMS data extraction system. He was also the founding co-director of the U.S. Census Bureau Research Data Center (RDC) at the University of Minnesota. The RDC officially opened for business in 2010 and is a critical part of the Census Bureau's RDC system focused on health data and Census Data improvement activities.
Davern has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles on evaluating health data quality, survey methodology, social networks, health insurance, income measurement, and health disparities. He has also helped secure more than 50 grants and contracts for public health and social science research.
Davern has received numerous honors, including the John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators, the Fesler-Lampert Chair in Aging Studies, the Eli J. and Helen Shaheen Graduate School Award in the Social Sciences, and the John J. Kane Memorial Award for the Outstanding Graduate Student in Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR)’s Policy Impact Award, 2012 was awarded to SHADAC for work he led while serving as Co-Principal Investigator and Research Director of SHADAC. Davern has acted in various capacities in the social science community including serving on the National Academies of Science Committee on National Statistics review of the American Community Survey, serving as a technical expert panelist for a Census Bureau Review of Person Identification Validation System (PVS), serving as a technical expert panelist for an Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation Review of the Urban Institute's Health Policy and Medicaid TRIM models, serving as a technical expert panelist for CMS development of a research extract from the Medicaid Analytic eXtract (MAX), serving as a member of the organizing committee for the Committee on National Statistics Panel on Sources of Data on SCHIP, and serving as a technical expert panelist for Social Security Administration's (SSA) Evaluation of linked Current Population Survey data and Survey of Income and Program Participation data to SSA administrative data for policy analysis.