Tanaka Lab


Location and Contact Information

University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
200 Hawkins Drive, SE415 GH
Iowa City, IA 52242

(319) 356-3887


Principal Investigator

Tomohiro Tanaka portrait

Tomohiro Tanaka, MD, MPH
Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine-Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Clinical Associate Professor of Health Management and Policy, College of Public Health
Medical Director, Living donor liver transplantation

About Dr. Tanaka

Dr. Tanaka is a transplant hepatologist and clinician-investigator, specializing in health policy and service research in the field of liver disease and transplantation. Dr. Tanaka's primary focus lies in evaluating health policies for individuals dealing with severe liver disease, particularly those who eventually require liver transplantations. Currently, Dr. Tanaka holds the leadership position for the University of Iowa Living Donor Liver Transplant Program, where they are at the forefront of advancing patient care.

As a clinical scientist, Dr. Tanaka has undertaken significant endeavors in the realm of observational studies, causal inference and quasi-experiments, delving into extensive transplant databases across various countries, including Japan, Canada, and the United States. A hallmark of Dr. Tanaka's career is their strong commitment to team science. Dr. Tanaka has forged collaborations with experts in transplant and hepato-pancreaticobiliary surgery, interventional radiology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, biostatistics, health policy, and epidemiology. Through these partnerships, Dr. Tanaka and their colleagues have successfully established and executed multidisciplinary studies that drive innovation and result in comprehensive solutions for intricate medical challenges.

Research at Tanaka lab focuses on causal inference and healthcare policy research, with a focus on health services within the field of gastroenterology and hepatology, as well as liver transplant organ allocation policies. We are dedicated to seeking objective solutions to challenges in the medical field through data-driven approaches.

Causal inference forms the backbone of our research. Accurate identification of causal relationships is crucial in evaluating healthcare policies and analyzing their effects. We analyze actual medical data and employ statistical methods to uncover causal relationships, contributing to supporting policy decisions and providing high-quality medical care.

In the realm of gastroenterology and hepatology health services, through the analysis of clinical data, we identify effective treatment methods, thereby contributing to the optimization of patient outcomes from a public health perspective. Also, within the domain of liver transplant organ allocation policies, we aim for equitable approaches due to the limited organ supply. Our efforts blend ethical considerations with the development of robust allocation models driven by data analysis, with the overarching goal of addressing disparities and achieving both equity and utility for a broader patient cohort.

Selected publications

Research Funding

Dr. Tanaka has served as Principal Investigator on the following research grants:

  • AHRQ K08 grant (K08 HS029195-01A1)
  • University of Iowa ICTS Pilot Grant Program (UM1TR004403)

Junior Investigators

Melis Celdir photo
Melis Celdir, MD

Fellow, Gastroenterology

Shahana Prakash photo
Shahana Prakash, MD

Clinical Assistant Professor, General Internal Medicine

Research Members

David Axelrod photo
David Axelrod, MD, MBA

Professor, Department of Surgery

Mark Vander Weg photo
Mark Vander Weg, PHD

Professor and Head, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, College of Public Health

George Wehby ohoto
George Wehby, PHD

Professor, John W. Colloton Chair, and Head, Department of Health Management and Policy, College of Public Health

Michael Jones photo

Michael Jones, PHD

Professor Emeritus, Department of Biostatistics, College of Public Health


Qianyi Shi photo
Qianyi Shi, PHD

Biostatistician, Department of Internal Medicine

Elizabeth Chrischelles photo

Elizabeth Chrischilles, PHD

Professor and Head Department of Epidemiology, Pomerantz Chair in Public Health, Director, Health Effectiveness Research Center

Keith Mueller photo
Keith Mueller, PHD

Gerhard Hartman Professor, Department of Health Management and Policy and Director of the RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis

Research Collaborator

Krista Lentine photo

Krista Lentine, MD, PHD

Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Nephrology,  Saint Louis University School of Medicine