Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH

“As the public-interest research arm of Kaiser Permanente Washington's learning health care system and a member of major research consortia, KPWHRI is honored to contribute to local and national health care improvements.”

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, MACP

Vice President for Research and Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington
Executive Director and Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Biography

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, is executive director of Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) and vice president for research and health care innovation at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington. A general internist, Dr. Larson is a national leader in geriatrics, health services, and clinical research and has been an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine since 2007.

Dr. Larson pursues an array of research, ranging from clinical interests such as Alzheimer’s disease and genomics to health services research involving technology assessment, cost-effectiveness analysis, and quality improvement. His research on aging includes a longstanding collaboration between Kaiser Permanente Washington and the University of Washington (UW) called the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study. Among ACT’s many groundbreaking findings:

  • Regular exercise is linked to reduced risk of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and declines in how well people think.
  • Use of larger amounts of common medications that have strong anticholinergic side effects is linked to higher risks for developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Risk for dementia in old age can be linked to early life factors, such as socioeconomic status, education, and mid-life vascular risk factors.
  • Risk for dementia is also tied to blood sugar levels, even without diabetes.

With colleagues from Duke and  Harvard, , Dr. Larson  started and now helps lead the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory. The Collaboratory sponsors pragmatic clinical trials and aims to improve the way clinical trials are conducted so that patients and care providers have access to the best available clinical evidence for decision-making. Dr. Larson is also the principal investigator for the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) project at KPWHRI and the UW. The goal of eMERGE research is to better understand the genomic basis of disease to tailor medical care to individual patients based on their genomic differences.

Dr. Larson has written or co-authored more than a dozen books, including 2017’s Enlightened Aging: Building Resilience for Long, Active Life, which draws from his decades of work as a physician and the leader of the ACT study. He has also published more than 500 peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Dr. Larson maintains a small but long-standing internal medicine practice. He served as medical director for the UW Medical Center and associate dean for clinical affairs at its medical school from 1989 to 2002. He is a member and past president of the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM), having received their highest honor, the Robert J. Glaser Award, in 2004. Dr. Larson is also a Master of the American College of Physicians (ACP) and served on their Board of Regents for nearly a decade, including one term as chair. He was a commissioner on The Joint Commission from 1999 to 2010. 

Research interests and experience

 

Recent publications

Tuzzio L, Larson EB. The promise of pragmatic clinical trials embedded in learning health systems. EGEMS (Wash DC). 2019;7(1):10. doi: 10.5334/egems.285. PubMed

Robertson K, Larson EB, Crane PK, Cholerton B, Craft S, McCormick WC, McCurry SM, Bowen JD, Baker LD, Trittschuh EH. Using varying diagnostic criteria to examine mild cognitive impairment prevalence and predict dementia incidence in a community-based sample. J Alzheimers Dis. 2019 Mar 18. pii: JAD180746. doi: 10.3233/JAD-180746. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Aiello Bowles EJ, Crane PK, Walker RL, Chubak J, LaCroix AZ, Anderson ML, Rosenberg D, Keene CD, Larson EB. Cognitive resilience to Alzheimer's disease pathology in the human brain.  J Alzheimers Dis. 2019 Mar 18. doi: 10.3233/JAD-180942. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

White L, Fishman P, Basu A, Crane PK, Larson EB, Coe NB. Medicare expenditures attributable to dementia. Health Serv Res. 2019 Mar 13. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.13134. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Hart LA, Marcum ZA, Gray SL, Walker RL, Crane PK, Larson EB. The association between central nervous system-active medication use and fall-related injury in community-dwelling older adults with dementia. Pharmacotherapy. 2019 Mar 12. doi: 10.1002/phar.2244. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Lee CS, Larson EB, Gibbons LE, Latimer CS, Rose SE, Hellstern LL, Keene CD, Crane PK; Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) Study. Ophthalmology-based neuropathology risk factors: diabetic retinopathy is associated with deep microinfarcts in a community-based autopsy study. J Alzheimers Dis. 2019 Mar 11. doi: 10.3233/JAD-181087. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

 

Notes from Eric

Tackling opioids: Rethinking pain management

Kaiser Permanente Washington can use its expertise in non-drug pain management to advance alternatives to the "medicalized" approach.

KPWHRI In the Media

Aging and geriatrics

8 ways to be an activist ager for your health

3rd Act magazine, Spring 2019

Addressing economic disparity while growing membership: Lowering cost is essential

It's time for Kaiser Permanente Washington to make smaller premiums a key performance metric.

6 ideas from the Mister Rogers movie that apply to health care

Dr. Eric B. Larson writes about how Fred Rogers' radical notions of love and kindness might inspire the best from those working in health care and health research.

Read it in LinkedIn Pulse.

latest News

Eye conditions may help screen for Alzheimer’s disease

Aug. 8, 2018—Age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma could be new lens on dementia risk.

Read it in News and Events.

KPWHRI In the Media

ACT study: Long-running study of aging examines changes in Kaiser Permanente patients over time

New thinking on avoiding deadly falls

AARP, July 10, 2018

Enlightened Aging

Proactive boomers will ‘choose their own adventure’ in growing old

In an excerpt from his new book, Enlightened Aging, Dr. Eric B. Larson encourages his generation to build reserves for a long life ahead.

Read it in Enlightened Aging

Live Healthy

10 things you can do to prevent devastating falls

A new study shows we know how to stop the leading cause of injury among older people, writes Dr. Eric B. Larson. All we have to do is use that knowledge.

Read about it in Live Healthy.