Aging & Geriatrics

“Our ‘living laboratory’ produces practical findings that are helping seniors delay dementia and other debilitating conditions.”

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH
Vice President for Research, Kaiser Permanente Washington
Executive Director, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Research overview

The world’s population is aging, and many U.S. baby boomers are entering their golden years. So it’s only fitting that much research at Kaiser Permanente Washington contributes to helping seniors to lead healthier lives.

“Research on aging cuts across virtually everything our Institute does,” said Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, the senior investigator who serves as executive director of Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) and Kaiser Permanente Washington vice president for research. This includes studies of older women’s health, mental health issues in the elderly, and controlling cancers and chronic illnesses that become more common with age. The widely cited Chronic Care Model, developed at KPWHRI’s MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation, is now the leading care-design model for everyone, including older people, with chronic disease.

The Institute also hosts several long-running cohort studies, including the Seattle Longitudinal Study, begun in the early 1950s, and the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, a collaboration with the University of Washington. For more than 20 years, ACT researchers, led by Dr. Larson, have focused on finding ways to delay or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, other dementias, and cognitive decline. Through ACT and related studies, the Institute has discovered clues to healthy aging that translate into guidance for safely staying active and avoiding cardiovascular risks. More recently, ACT researchers have also been contributing to research on traumatic brain injury and on the genetic foundations of various diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

In addition, the Institute’s drug safety research contributes to better understanding of how certain common medications affect seniors’ well-being. Meanwhile, our investigators are also seeking ways to help seniors stay physically active, avoid unnecessary hospitalizations, and receive late-life care that best reflects their values and preferences.

“We’re learning what our study participants value as they grow older,” Larson said. “And we hope to apply that to help them have a positive experience with aging—promoting their independence and providing them with skills to cope with any problems that may occur.”

Recent publications on Aging & Geriatrics

Latimer CS, Burke BT, Liachko NF, Currey HN, Kilgore MD, Gibbons LE, Henriksen J, Darvas M, Domoto-Reilly K, Jayadev S, Grabowski TJ, Crane PK, Larson EB, Kraemer BC, Bird TD, Keene CD. Resistance and resilience to Alzheimer's disease pathology are associated with reduced cortical pTau and absence of limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy in a community-based cohort. Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2019;7(1):9. doi: 10.1186/s40478-019-0743-1. PubMed

Glymour MM, Gibbons LE, Gilsanz P, Gross AL, Mez J, Brewster PW, Marden J, Zahodne LB, Nho K, Hamilton J, Li G, Larson EB, Crane PK. Initiation of antidepressant medication and risk of incident stroke: using the Adult Changes in Thought cohort to address time-varying confounding. Ann Epidemiol. 2019 May 11. pii: S1047-2797(18)31094-9. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2019.04.010. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Zlatar ZZ, Godbole S, Takemoto M, Crist K, Sweet CMC, Kerr J, Rosenberg DE. Changes in Moderate Intensity Physical Activity Are Associated With Better Cognition in the Multilevel Intervention for Physical Activity in Retirement Communities (MIPARC) Study. LID - S1064-7481(19)30345-8 [pii] LID - 10.1016/j.jagp.2019.04.011 [doi] Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2019 Apr 29. pii: S1064-7481(19)30345-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2019.04.011 [Epub ahead of print] 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

Researchers in Aging & Geriatrics

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, MACP

Vice President for Research and Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington; Executive Director & Senior Investigator, KPWHRI
206-287-2988
Eric.B.Larson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2870
Sascha.Dublin@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Diana S. Buist, PhD, MPH

Director of Research and Strategic Partnerships; Senior Investigator
206-287-2931
Diana.S.Buist@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea Z. LaCroix, PhD

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Professor and Chief of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego
858-822-1073
Alacroix@ucsd.edu

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Edward H. Wagner, MD, MPH

Director (Emeritus, Retired), MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation
206-287-2877
Brian.T.Austin@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Dori E. Rosenberg, PhD, MPH

Associate Investigator
206-287-2532
Dori.E.Rosenberg@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Erin J. Bowles, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2708
Erin.A.Bowles@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Ellen O'Meara, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2938
Ellen.S.O'Meara@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Melissa L. Anderson, MS

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2647
Melissa.L.Anderson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rod L. Walker, MS

Biostatistician
206-287-2895
Rod.L.Walker@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Bridget Burke, PhD, MPH, MIS

Research Fellow
206-287-5252
Bridget.T.Burke@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Laura Harrington, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2066
Laura.B.Harrington@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)