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

Wong SPY, Yu MK, Green PK, Liu CF, Hebert PL, O'Hare AM. End-of-life care for patients with advanced kidney disease in the US veterans affairs health care system, 2000-2011. Am J Kidney Dis. 2018 Jan 10. pii: S0272-6386(17)31100-9. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2017.11.007. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Bagi Z, Brandner DD, Le P, McNeal DW, Gong X, Dou H, Fulton DJ, Beller A, Ngyuen T, Larson EB, Montine TJ, Keene CD, Back SA. Vasodilator dysfunction and oligodendrocyte dysmaturation in aging white matter. Ann Neurol. 2017 Dec 28. doi: 10.1002/ana.25129. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Wang L, Hubbard RA, Walker RL, Lee EB, Larson EB, Crane PK. Assessing robustness of hazard ratio estimates to outcome misclassification in longitudinal panel studies with application to Alzheimer's disease. PLoS One. 2017 Dec 22;12(12):e0190107. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190107. eCollection 2017. PubMed

Larson EB. Prevention of late-life dementia: no magic bullet. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Dec 19. pii: 2666421. doi: 10.7326/M17-3026. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Flanagan ME, Larson EB, Walker RL, Keene CD, Postupna N, Cholerton B, Sonnen JA, Dublin S, Crane PK, Montine TJ. Associations between use of specific analgesics and concentrations of amyloid-beta 42 or phospho-tau in regions of human cerebral cortex. J Alzheimers Dis. 2017 Dec 8. pii: JAD170414. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170414. [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, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
206-287-2988
larson.e@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2870
dublin.s@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Diana S. Buist, PhD, MPH

Director of Research and Strategic Partnership; Senior Investigator
206-287-2931
buist.d@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea Z. LaCroix, PhD

Senior Investigator
858-822-1073
Alacroix@ucsd.edu

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Edward H. Wagner, MD, MPH

Director (Emeritus), MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation
206-287-2877
wagner.e@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Dori E. Rosenberg, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2532
rosenberg.d@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Erin J. Bowles, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2708
bowles.e@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Ellen O'Meara, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2938
omeara.e@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Melissa L. Anderson, MS

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2647
anderson.melissa@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rod L. Walker, MS

Biostatistician
206-287-2895
walker.rl@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Bridget Burke, PhD, MPH, MIS

Research Fellow
206-287-5252
burke.b@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)