June 17, 2019

Top pediatric physician-scientist chosen to lead Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute


Rita Mangione-Smith, MD, MPH, brings expertise in quality improvement and health systems from her leadership posts at Seattle Children’s and University of Washington School of Medicine

Susan Mullaney, president of Kaiser Permanente Washington, and Stephen Tarnoff, MD, president and executive medical director of Washington Permanente Medical Group, issued the following statement.

We are pleased to announce selection of Rita Mangione-Smith, MD, MPH, as our new Vice President for Research and Health Care Innovation and Executive Director of Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. Dr. Mangione-Smith brings a passion for our learning health system as a place where scientific research provides direct and actionable learnings for the improvement of health care delivery, cost, and quality.

Well-known nationally for her research in improving care for children, Dr. Mangione-Smith has focused on developing and implementing quality improvement interventions for several areas of care, specifically: hospital-based respiratory illness care, hospital-based mental health care, and transitions between sites of care. Her contributions to regional and national thought leadership will continue to grow the influence and improvement in health outcomes, for which KPWHRI has long been trusted.

“I am excited to join Kaiser Permanente Washington, which includes some of the most skilled health services and health policy researchers nationally,” said Dr. Mangione-Smith. “With its embedded Learning Health System Program, Kaiser Permanente Washington is nationally known as a leader in helping our country address the gaps between scientific discovery and health care delivery, bringing life-saving benefits to patients in real-world clinical settings.”

Dr. Mangione-Smith brings significant strengths to Kaiser Permanente with her experience as an investigator in the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute; professor and chief of the Division of General Pediatrics and Hospital Medicine in the University of Washington Department of Pediatrics; and director of the Quality Improvement Scholars Program at the UW Department of Pediatrics and Seattle Children’s Hospital. In her current role, she leads 135 faculty members, representing all three UW School of Medicine faculty tracks: Clinical Faculty, Clinician Educator, and Faculty Scientist.

An accomplished organizational leader, Dr. Mangione-Smith is recognized for her work as an active teacher and mentor. She established a division-wide mentorship program for junior faculty that has been highly successful. She also developed several collaborative working groups across the Division focused on enhancing the quality and safety of care across six outpatient and six inpatient clinical sites; standardizing and improving educational programs for both residents and medical students; and sharing and disseminating research innovations across clinical sites.

“As a pediatrician, I understand the life-changing consequences of strong health promotion and disease prevention—areas where Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute has long excelled,” Dr. Mangione-Smith said.  “I look forward to using my research skills and leadership experience to help Kaiser Permanente Washington continue to grow its groundbreaking research across the life course, improving the wellbeing of people in our state and around the globe,” she added.

We are delighted that Dr. Mangione-Smith will be joining the Health Plan and Medical Group Executive teams. She will assume this important executive position as Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, retires from his leadership role and stays on as a senior investigator at KPWHRI.

Needless to say, we both share extreme gratitude for the work Dr. Larson has done leading Kaiser Permanente Washington research over the past 17 years. The Institute’s annual grant revenue has grown from $12 million to more than $50 million during his tenure. But even more importantly, the Institute’s scientific teams have contributed immeasurably during this time to improving the health and well-being of Kaiser Permanente members and others nationwide.

As a national leader in health services research Dr. Larson has worked tirelessly to promote the spread of scientific research embedded in real-world health care systems nationally and helped to launch Kaiser Permanente Washington’s own Learning Health System Program in 2017. Kaiser Permanente Washington research has a bright future ahead, and we look forward to working with Dr. Larson and the KPWHRI leadership team to ensure a seamless transition as Dr. Mangione-Smith prepares to join us in August.

Fast Facts


Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute does practical research to keep people healthy.

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Our history


The Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and its precursors have been doing research for more than 50 years that has improved health and how care is provided.

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Media contact

Amelia Apfel
(425) 507-5455