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Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health - About the RPGEH

The Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health (RPGEH) is a scientific research program at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research that facilitates and conducts large-scale studies of genetic and environmental factors that influence common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, asthma, psychiatric disorders, vision disorders, and many others, as well as health-related traits such as blood pressure, and response to medications.

The mission of the RPGEH is to develop and maintain needed resources for conducting research, provide a collaborative environment, and facilitate research on genetic, behavioral and environmental factors (both the physical and social environments) that are involved in the development and outcomes of many different diseases. Our vision is to conduct important research that increases knowledge about health and translates into improved health and medical care for our members and the public.

To conduct research, the RPGEH utilizes one of the largest biobanks in the United States, consisting of linked biospecimens, participant surveys, and electronic health record (EHR) data on a diverse cohort of about 200,000 Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) members who joined the RPGEH and consented to provide their data and biospecimens for health research. All adult (18 years +) members of KPNC are eligible to participate. A subsample of the RPGEH, the Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging, or GERA cohort, includes more than 100,000 individuals with genome-wide SNP data and a measure of telomere length that are linked to the RPGEH survey and participants’ EHR data. In addition to the General Cohort, the RPGEH also includes a Pregnancy Cohort of about 24,000 pregnant women with blood samples collected in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy and linked electronic health records. These resources were developed by the RPGEH, beginning in 2007.

In 2014, the RPGEH joined with other regions of Kaiser Permanente (Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, and Southern California) to develop the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank (KPRB), planned to include 500,000 Kaiser Permanente members from all regions. Access to the research resources of the KPRB, including those developed by the RPGEH, is administered through an application process by the KPRB. To inquire about collaboration with RPGEH researchers, please contact us at

Directors and Core Leaders

Our directors and core leaders combine expertise in genetics, epidemiology, biostatistics, bioinformatics, cancer, mental health, pregnancy, neurologic disorders, and more.

​​​​​​​​​​Catherine Schaefer, PhD
Executive Director of Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health
Kaiser Permanente Division of Research

Neil J. Risch, PhD
Co-Director, Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health,
Adjunct Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research
Director, Institute for Human Genetics
University of California, San Francisco

Lisa Croen, PhD
Epidemiologist and Research Scientist
Kaiser Permanente Division of Research

Lawrence H. Kushi, ScD
Cancer Research Network and Research Scientist
Kaiser Permanente Division of Research

Charles P. Quesenberry, PhD
Biostatistician and Research Scientist
Kaiser Permanente Division of Research

Stephen Van Den Eeden, PhD
Epidemiologist and Research Scientist
Kaiser Permanente Division of Research

Madhavan Ganesh, PhD
Associate Director, Research Informatics
Systems Architect and Research Informatics

Elaine Chung, MPH
Research Coordination and Administration

Contact RPGEH

Tel: (866) 369-2157

Questions about your rights as a study participant, or comments or complaints about the study, may also be presented to the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects, Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, 1800 Harrison Street, 16th Floor, Oakland, CA 94612, telephone toll-free 866-241-0690.​


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