Aging & Geriatrics

“From our beginnings in 1983, aging research at KPWHRI has consistently led to practical findings that enhance quality of life for seniors.”

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator

Research overview

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

“Research on aging cuts across virtually everything our institute does,” says Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, the senior investigator and executive director of Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) and Kaiser Permanente Washington vice president for research and health care innovation. 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. Now, funding for aging research, especially Alzheimer’s and related disorders, offers even great opportunities for embedded scientists and their teams.

The institute has hosted  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 30 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, avoiding injurious falls, and reducing cardiovascular risks. These and other changes have likely contributed to lowering of dementia rates in some first-world countries. 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, including avoiding unsafe medications. 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,” Dr. Larson says. “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

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

Marcum ZA, Hohl SD, Gray SL, Barthold D, Crane PK, Larson EB. Brain Health and Dementia Prevention: A Mixed-method Analysis. Am J Health Behav. 2019;43(2):300-310. doi: 10.5993/AJHB.43.2.7. PubMed

LaCroix AZ, Bellettiere J, Rillamas-Sun E, Di C, Evenson KR, Lewis CE, Buchner DM, Stefanick ML, Lee IM, Rosenberg DE, LaMonte MJ. Association of light physical activity measured by accelerometry and incidence of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease in older women. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(3):e190419. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.0419. PubMed

Marcum ZA, Hohl SD, Gray SL, Barthold D, Crane PK, Larson EB. Patient perceptions of antihypertensive use as a dementia prevention strategy: a mixed-method analysis of a web-based survey. J Alzheimers Dis. 2019 Feb 20. pii: JAD181080. doi: 10.3233/JAD-181080. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Researchers in Aging & Geriatrics

Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, MACP

Senior Investigator and former Executive Director, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Former Vice President for Research and Health Care Innovation, Kaiser Permanente Washington
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)

Affiliate researchers

Paul Crane, MD, MPH
Professor, Internal Medicine
University of Washington

Sue McCurry, PhD
Research Professor, Psychosocial and Community Health
University of Washington

Linda Teri, PhD
Professor, Psychosocial & Community Health
Director, Northwest Research Group on Aging, Psychosocial and Community Health
University of Washington

Shelly Gray, PharmD, MS, AGSF
Professor, Department of Pharmacy
University of Washington

Zachary A. Marcum, PhD, PharmD
Assistant Professor, School of Pharmacy
University of Washington

David R. Crosslin, PhD
Assistant Professor
Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education
Adjunct Faculty
Genome Sciences, Division of Medical Genetics
University of Washington

Janelle S. Taylor, PhD
Professor, Department of Anthropology
University of Toronto

Elizabeth Phelan, MD, MS
Associate Professor, Medicine/Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine
Harborview Medical Center
Adjunct Associate Professor, Health Services
University of Washington

Gail Jarvik, MD, PhD
Professor, Medical Genetics, Genome Sciences, Department of Medicine
University of Washington

James Floyd, MD, MS
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

Dirk Keene, MD, PhD
Department of Pathology
Harborview Medical Center
 
Oleg Zaslavsky, PhD, MHA, RN
Assistant Professor Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems Department
Associate Director of Research, de Tornyay Center for Health Aging
School of Nursing, University of Washington
 
Kristen Dams-O'Connor, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai