Past Birnbaum Lectures

Hilde and Bill Birnbaum Endowed Lecture on Benefiting Patients Through Health Research

The annual Birnbaum Endowed Lecture was established in 2000 to honor Group Health founders Hilde and Bill Birnbaum's long-term commitment to Group Health and their passion for using research to improve patient care. 

In addition to the lecture, the event features the presentation of the annual Birnbaum Award, an honor that goes to a Group Health work team that has made extraordinary contributions to successful research at Group Health. Each year, Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) staff members nominate teams for this award. Winners are selected by GHRI scientific investigators.

Past lectures and awards


“A shared vision: New perspectives on strengthening social determinants of health"

View the 2016 Birnbaum Lecture videos (YouTube)

2016 keynote speaker: Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore city health commissioner  and professor of emergency medicine and of health policy at George Washington University.


  • Group Health’s Behavioral Health Integration Team: Dr. Katharine Bradley, Dr. Ryan Caldeiro, Amy Lee, Dr. Paula Lozano, Dr. Larry Marx, and Rebecca Parrish.


“Patient engagement in the digital age"

View an excerpt of the 2015 Birnbaum Lecture video (YouTube)

2015 keynote speaker: Dr. Mike Evansassociate professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto.


  • Group Health’s Shared Decision Making Implementation Team: Dr. Jane Ann Dimer; Kim Wicklund, Dr. Marc Mora, Dr. David McCulloch, Dr. David Arterburn, Emily Westbrook, Dr. Christopher Cable, Dr. Matthew Handley, Dr. Charles Jung, and Dr. Marc Lowe.


“Affordable health care for all: How will our nation and region deliver on the promise?”

View the 2014 Birnbaum Lecture videos (YouTube)

Guest panelists:

  • Arnold Milstein, MD, MPH
    Professor of Medicine, Stanford University and
    Director, Stanford University Clinical Excellence Research Center, a collaboration of the Schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Business
  • Mark Smith, MD, MBA
    Founding CEOCalifornia HealthCare Foundation, a grant-making philanthropy supporting quality, efficiency, and affordability in health care
  • Mary McWilliams, MHA
    Executive Director, Washington State Health Alliance, a non-profit promoting health care quality and affordability


  • Dr. Kim Riddell and Peggy Rogers
  • Dr. Matt Handley
  • Group Health’s Patient Engagement team led by Kim Wicklund


“Unlocking the power of research: How will America’s scientific enterprise address key challenges ahead for health care?”

View the 2013 Birnbaum Lecture videos

Guest panelists:

  • Harvey Fineberg, MD, PhD, president of the Institute of Medicine, which advises the nation’s policy makers on health and medicine.
  • Carolyn M. Clancy, MD, director of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which funds health services research aimed at care improvement for all Americans.
  • Steven R. Hill, MBA, former director of the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems and chair of the Robert Bree Collaborative, a consortium of public and private health care purchasers, insurers, and providers working together in Washington state on issues of variation in care and recommending quality improvement strategies.

Introduction: Greg Simon, MD, MPH, senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute and a Group Health psychiatrist.

Moderator: Joanne Silberner, artist-in-residence at the University of Washington and former health policy correspondent for National Public Radio.

Award: Group Health Radiology Team for Improving Safety of CT Scanning


Speaker: Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP
Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
Former Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Award: Opioid Prescribing Safety Initiative Team


"Paradise lost, Paradise deferred? The role of integrated health plans in today’s changing health care system."

Speaker: Robert Evans, PhD
Professor of Economics, Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, University of British Columbia

Award: Group Health Oncology and Hematology Chief Dr. Eric Chen


"Building Quality Care: A New Outlook for Humanity."

Speaker: Brent James, MD, MStat
Chief Quality Officer and Executive Director, Institute for Health Care Delivery Research, Intermountain Healthcare

Award: Dr. Nan Smith and team: “Healthy Options Healthy Families—Improving the Quality of Care for Young Families”


"Prospects for National Health Care Reform."

Speaker: Mollyann Brodie, PhD
Vice President and Director of Public Opinion and Survey Research, Kaiser Family Foundation

  • View the 2009 lecture (41 minutes)

Award: Group Health Clinical Pharmacists


"Hope or Hype: The Conflict Between Science and Profit in Health Care."

Speaker: Richard Deyo, MD, MPH
Kaiser Permanente Professor of Evidence-based Family Medicine, Oregon Health and Science University


  • Medical Home Team at the Group Health Factoria Medical Center
  • Hugh Straley, MD


"Aligning the Forces of Health Care for Quality and Fairness for All."

Speaker: Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD
President of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Award: Group Health Cooperative's Northgate Medical Center Team #2


"With So Many Problems, Why Worry About Global Health?"

Speaker: William "Bill" H. Foege, MD, MPH
Senior Fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Former Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Award: Group Health's Breast Cancer Screening Program


"Achieving a High-Performance Health System."

Speaker: Karen Davis, PhD
President of The Commonwealth Fund

Award: Group Health's Physical Therapy Department


"Transforming Health Care for Preventive Care Services: 30 Years of Learning/Projections for the Future."

Speaker: Robert "Tommy" Thompson, MD
Director Emeritus, Group Health Permanente Department of Preventive Care; Senior Investigator, Group Health Center for Health Studies

Award: Group Health's Central and Eastside Gastroenterology (GI) Teams 


"The Center for Health Studies: Leading by Example."

Speaker: Eric Larson, MD, MPH
Director, Group Health Center for Health Studies

Award: Group Health's Information Systems Division


"Closing the Quality Chasm: The Transformation of Chronic-Illness Care Nationwide."

Speaker: Ed Wagner, MD, MPH
Director, MacColl Institute; Senior Investigator, Center for Health Studies

Award: Group Health's Breast Cancer Screening Program nurses


"Patients as Partners: Empowering Patients to Improve Health Outcomes."

Speaker: David Sobel, MD, MPH
Director of Patient Education and Health Promotion, Kaiser Permanente Northern California