Women's Health

“Shining a light on sex-based differences can result in better health and health care for everybody. We continually ask: ‘How do health care and policy need to be designed to meet men and women’s unique differences?’”

Katherine M. Newton, PhD
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator (Emeritus)

Research overview

Women are most of the world’s population, but for many years, much health research has focused on men. Women face unique health choices about birth control and pregnancy, cancer screening, preventing osteoporosis, and treating menopause symptoms. Studies by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) investigators are helping women make the best decisions for a long and healthy life.

“We’re studying all the major health experiences and conditions of women’s lives,” said Katherine M. Newton, PhD, KPWHRI senior investigator and director of Research & External Affairs. In addition to studying “equal-opportunity” conditions such as heart disease, which are common in men and women, Kaiser Permanente Washington  investigators study women’s health issues such as:

  • Breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment;
  • Osteoporosis and bone health;
  • Contraception and pregnancy;
  • Reproductive health, including sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Urinary tract infections; and
  • Menopause symptoms and treatments.

Results from KPWHRI studies improve care locally and globally. Work by Delia Scholes, PhD, senior investigator, has contributed to broadly adopted public health policies such as Chlamydia screening to reduce pelvic inflammatory disease and contraceptive guidelines from the World Health Organization. “It’s been wonderful to find that what we are learning at Kaiser Permanente Washington can be part of improved health care for women everywhere,” Dr. Scholes said.

Since 2007, KPWHRI has hosted postdoctoral researchers in women’s health through a T32 Training Award called “Health Care Improvement for Aging Women” from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Andrea LaCroix, PhD, senior investigator, is the principal investigator and program director. Drs. Newton and Scholes are co-directors.

Recent publications on Women's Health

Trister AD, Buist DM, Lee CI. Will machine learning tip the balance in breast cancer screening? JAMA Oncology.doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.0473.

Wirtz HS, Calip GS, Buist DS, Gralow JR, Barlow WE, Gray S, Boudreau DM. Evidence for detection bias by medication use in a cohort study of breast cancer survivors. Am J Epidemiol. 2017 Mar 1:1-12. doi: 10.1093/aje/kww242. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Sprague BL, Arao RF, Miglioretti DL, Henderson LM, Buist DS, Onega T, Rauscher GH, Lee JM, Tosteson AN, Kerlikowske K, Lehman CD; Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. National performance benchmarks for modern diagnostic digital mammography: update from the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium. Radiology. 2017 Apr;283(1):59-69. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2017161519. Epub 2017 Feb 28. PubMed

Knerr S, Wernli KJ, Leppig K, Ehrlich K, Graham AL, Farrell D, Evans C, Luta G, Schwartz MD, O'Neill SC. A web-based personalized risk communication and decision-making tool for women with dense breasts: design and methods of a randomized controlled trial within an integrated health care system. Contemp Clin Trials. 2017 Feb 28;56:25-33. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2017.02.009. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Karter AJ, Lipska KJ, O'Connor PJ, Liu JY, Moffet HH, Schroeder EB, Lawrence JM, Nichols GA, Newton KM, Pathak RD, Desai J, Waitzfelder B, Butler MG, Thomas A, Steiner JF; SUPREME-DM Study Group. High rates of severe hypoglycemia among African American patients with diabetes: the surveillance, prevention, and Management of Diabetes Mellitus (SUPREME-DM) network. J Diabetes Complications. 2017 Feb 21. pii: S1056-8727(16)30932-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2017.02.009. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Researchers in Women's Health

Katherine M. Newton, PhD

Senior Investigator (Emeritus)
206-287-2973
newton.k@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Delia Scholes, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2888
scholes.d@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea Z. LaCroix, PhD

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

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)

Diana L. Miglioretti, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-4266
miglioretti.d@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen J. Sherman, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2426
sherman.k@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Sascha Dublin, MD, PhD

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen Wernli, PhD

Associate Investigator
206-287-2934
wernli.k@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Erin J. Bowles, MPH

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Laura E. Ichikawa, MPH

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2395
ichikawa.l@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer F. Bobb, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2190
bobb.j@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Manu Thakral, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2900
thakral.m@ghc.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers

Amy Bonomi, PhD, MPH
The Ohio State University Department of Human Development and Family Science

Linda LeResche, ScD
University of Washington (UW) Department of Oral Medicine

Susan D. Reed, MD, MPH
Harborview Medical Center; UW Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Leslie Spangler, PhD
Amgen

Rachel Winer, PhD, MPH
Fred Hutchinson/UW Cancer Consortium; UW Department of Epidemiology