• “At KPWHRI, we have access to extensive data on cancer care. I'm using the data to learn how to improve the experiences of cancer patients and their families.”

    “At KPWHRI, we have access to extensive data on cancer care. I'm using the data to learn how to improve the experiences of cancer patients and their families.”

    Erin Bowles, MPH,
    Senior Research Associate, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

  • “I'm working on reducing cancer through better screening. I collaborate with researchers nationwide on studies that will make screening more effective, patient-friendly, and personalized.”

    “I'm working on reducing cancer through better screening. I collaborate with researchers nationwide on studies that will make screening more effective, patient-friendly, and personalized.”

    Aruna Kamineni, PhD, MPH,
    Assistant Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Research overview

Cancer is complex and can be a devastating diagnosis for individuals and their families. Our researchers work to improve cancer control on many levels, from prevention and screening through treatment and survivorship.

Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) has been studying how to provide life-saving breast cancer screening since 1986. In a novel initiative, researchers used a computer-based registry and collaborations with organizations across the U.S. before electronic health records existed and multi-site studies were common. The program ultimately led to a rich portfolio of studies not only on breast cancer, but also on colorectal, blood, cervical, lung, and thyroid cancers.

“Decades later, Kaiser Permanente Washington is just as committed to developing and evaluating innovations in cancer care,” said Karen Wernli, PhD, KPWHRI associate investigator.

The core of KPWHRI cancer research lies in its participation in many collaborative networks and programs. “Collaboration increases the power of Kaiser Permanente studies and helps us learn from different populations and health care settings,” said Senior Investigator Jessica Chubak, PhD. Examples of these networks include:

Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC)
The BCSC identifies strategies that detect aggressive breast cancer early, minimize harms, and reach diverse communities. Results help policymakers and health systems improve breast cancer screening and surveillance outcomes. The Kaiser Permanente Washington Breast Imaging Registry contributes to this national effort and the BCSC Statistical Coordinating Center resides at KPWHRI.

Population-based Research to Optimize the Screening Process (PROSPR)
The PROSPR national consortium conducts research to improve screening for cervical, colorectal, and lung cancers. PROSPR results will help optimize and tailor screening for different subgroups of the population.

Kaiser Permanente Research Bank (KPRB) Cancer Cohort
The KPRB Cancer Cohort is a national resource for understanding genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that contribute to cancer etiology and survival. Electronic health record data, stored tissue specimens, detailed treatment data, and the ability to follow patients for recurrence and mortality are accelerating progress toward improved cancer care.

Some of the cancer research group’s current studies include:

Past findings include:

Recent publications on Cancer

Yankaskas BC, Taplin SH, Ichikawa L, Geller BM, Rosenberg RD, Carney PA, Kerlikowske K, Ballard-Barbash R, Cutter GR, Barlow WE. Association between mammography timing and measures of screening performance in the United States. Radiology. 2005;234(2):363-73. PubMed

Yao S, Barlow WE, Albain KS, Choi JY, Zhao H, Livingston RB, Davis W, Rae JM, Yeh IT, Hutchins LF, Ravdin PM, Martino S, Lyss AP, Kent Osborne C, Abeloff MD, Hortobagyi GN, Hayes DF, Ambrosone CB. Manganese superoxide dismutase polymorphism, treatment-related toxicity and disease-free survival in SWOG 8897 clinical trial for breast cancer.  Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Nov;124(2):433-9. Epub 2010 Mar 23. PubMed

Yasmeen S, Hubbard R, Romano PS, Zhu W, Geller BM, Onega T, Yankaskas B, Miglioretti DL, Kerlikowske K. Risk of advanced-stage breast cancer among older women with comorbidities. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 Sep;21(9):1510-9. Epub 2012 Jun 28. PubMed

Yeh JM, Lowry KP, Schechter CB, Diller LR, Alagoz O, Armstrong GT, Hampton JM, Leisenring W, Liu Q, Mandelblatt JS, Miglioretti DL, Moskowitz CS, Oeffinger KC, Trentham-Dietz A, Stout NK. Clinical benefits, harms, and cost-effectiveness of breast cancer screening for survivors of childhood cancer treated with chest radiation: a comparative modeling study. Ann Intern Med. 2020 Sep 1;173(5):331-341. doi: 10.7326/M19-3481. Epub 2020 Jul 7. PubMed

Yellen SB, Cella DF, Bonomi A. Quality of life in people with Hodgkin's disease. Oncology (Huntingt). 1993;7(8):41-5; discussion 46, 50-2. PubMed

Researchers in Cancer

Melissa L. Anderson, MS

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Erin J. Bowles, MPH

Director, Collaborative Science
206-287-2708
Erin.A.Bowles@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jessica Chubak, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2556
Jessica.Chubak@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Yates Coley, PhD

Associate Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2071
Rebecca.Y.Coley@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Andrea J. Cook, PhD

Senior Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-4257
Andrea.J.Cook@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Marlaine Figueroa Gray, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2620
Marlaine.S.Figueroagray@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Beverly B. Green, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
206-287-2997
Bev.B.Green@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Laura E. Ichikawa, MS

Principal Collaborative Biostatistician
206-287-2395
Laura.E.Ichikawa@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer B. McClure, PhD

Director, Investigative Science
206-287-2737
Jennifer.B.Mcclure@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Ellen O'Meara, PhD

Principal Collaborative Scientist
206-287-2938
Ellen.S.O'Meara@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Lorella Palazzo, PhD

Senior Collaborative Scientist
206-287-2173
Lorella.G.Palazzo@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Gaia Pocobelli, PhD

Senior Collaborative Scientist
206-287-2914
Gaia.S.Pocobelli@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Rod L. Walker, MS

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Robert D. Wellman, MS

Principal Collaborative Biostatistician
206-287-2557
Robert.D.Wellman@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen Wernli, PhD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2934
Karen.J.Wernli@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Onchee Yu, MS

Principal Collaborative Biostatistician
206-287-2389
Onchee.Yu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Weiwei Zhu, MS

Senior Collaborative Biostatistician
206-442-5215
Weiwei.Zhu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Yu-Ru Su, PhD

Associate Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2948
yuru.su@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Brian D. Williamson, PhD

Assistant Biostatistics Investigator
206-287-2024
Brian.D.Williamson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Noorie Hyun, PhD

Associate Biostatistics Investigator
Noorie.Hyun@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Pamela A. Shaw, PhD, MS

Senior Biostatistics Investigator
Pamela.A.Shaw@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Nicole M. Gatto, PhD, MPH

Principal Collaborative Scientist
Nicole.M.Gatto@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Meagan C. Brown, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator
Meagan.C.Brown@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers

Wylie Burke, MD, PhD
University of Washington (UW) Department of Medical History and Ethics

Joann G. Elmore, MD, MPH
Harborview Medical Center; UW Department of Epidemiology

Larry Kessler, ScD
UW Department of Health Services

Constance D. Lehman, MD, PhD
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; UW Department of Radiology

Kathy Leppig, MD
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington; UW Department of Pathology

Peggy L. Porter, MD
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC); UW Department of Pathology

Emily White, PhD
FHCRC; UW Department of Epidemiology

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