Toben Nelson, ScD

Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health

Toben Nelson

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-626-9791

Office Address:
300 West Bank Office Building

Mailing Address:
1300 S 2nd St
Room 300 West Bank Office Building
Minneapolis, MN 55454

ScD, Public Health, Harvard University

MS, Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

BA, Psychology & Physical Education, Hamline University


I study prevention of alcohol attributable harm, injury and violence prevention, motor vehicle safety, physical activity promotion, obesity prevention, the influence of sports participation on health and social determinants of health. 


Food & nutrition, injuries, methods, alcohol, physical activity, substance use, social epidemiology, policy, sport, prevention, motor vehicle safety

Awards & Recognition

  • Member, Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health


Research Summary/Interests

Research Funding Grants

  • 2018-2023, "The Effects of Changes in Local Alcohol Policies and Enforcement on Alcohol Use and Impaired Driving," Principal Investigator
  • 2017-2019, "Assessing How Local-Level Law Enforcement Strategies, Both Specific and in the Aggregate, Influence Binge Drinking and Alcohol-Impaired Driving in Communities Across the U.S.," Co-Investigator
  • 2016-2020, "Interdisciplinary Research Leaders - National Program Leadership Center," Co-Investigator
  • 2016–2018, University of Minnesota Grand Challenge Research Grant, "Toward a Minnesota Model for Brain Health in Youth Sports," Principal Investigator
  • 2017-2021, "The influence of health and neighborhood context on economic mobility: Evidence from a social experiment," Co-Investigator
  • 2016–2017, Blue Zones, "Community Prevention of Alcohol-related Harms: A Blue Zones Demonstration," Principal Investigator
  • 2015–2017, NIH, "Development of an Alcohol Risk Management Program for College Fraternities," Principal Investigator
  • 2016–2018, NIH, "Mediators and Moderators of a Neighborhood Experiment on Alcohol Abuse," Co-Investigator


See a full list of publications on PubMed

Select Publications

  • Nanney MS, MacLehose RF, Kubik MY, Davey CS, O'Connell MJ, Grannon KY, Nelson TF. "School Obesity Prevention Policies and Practices in Minnesota and Student Outcomes: A Longitudinal Cohort Study," American Journal of Preventative Medicine, Nov 2016
  • Lenk KM, Nelson TF, Toomey TL, Jones-Webb R, Erickson DJ. "Sobriety checkpoint and open container laws in the United States: Associations with reported drinking-driving," Traffic Injury Prevention, Nov 2016
  • Pelletier JE, Laska MN, MacLehose R, Nelson TF, Nanney MS. "State-Level Trends and Correlates for Cross-Sector Collaboration on School Nutrition and Physical Education Activities, 2000-2012," Preventing Chronic Disease, July 2016
  • Rutledge PC, Bestrashniy JR, Nelson TF. "Problematic Drinking Among Postgraduate Students: Binge Drinking, Prepartying, and Mixing Alcohol With Energy Drinks," Substance Use & Misuse, April 2016



  • PubH 6020 Fundamentals of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • PubH 6078 Public Health Policy as a Prevention Strategy
    (with T. Toomey)
  • PubH 6333 Human Behavior I



U of MN Health Sciences Expert Link

Health Experts Profile

In The News

SPH News

In the Media

  • A Huge Clinical Trial Collapses, and Research on Alcohol Remains Befuddling (The Washington Post)
  • A Huge Clinical Trial Collapses, and Research on Alcohol Remains Befuddling (The Denver Post)
  • Research on Alcohol Remains Befuddling (Santa Fe New Mexican)
  • As beer flows at college sporting events, so does criticism (Tampa Bay Times)
  • How the night before Thanksgiving became the 'biggest drinking day of the year' (Star Tribune)
  • Toxic drinking culture lead to the Penn State fraternity death (Newsweek, opinion)
  • Study finds alcohol programs have little impact on greek communities. (MN Daily)
  • Does selling beer at college games decrease binge drinking? (The Philadelphia Inquirer)