Catherine Schaefer

Catherine Schaefer, PhD, is a senior research scientist / epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, CA. She directs the Kaiser Permanente Research Program on Genes, Environment, and Health (RPGEH), a research resource that includes comprehensive electronic health records, biospecimens, health-related surveys, and geographic information system data on a diverse general cohort of 200,000 adult members of Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Plan, Northern California.

She and colleague Neil Risch (UCSF Institute for Human Genetics) developed the Genetic Epidemiology Research in Adult Health and Aging (GERA) cohort of genome-wide SNP markers plus telomere length on 103,000 RPGEH participants that has been used to study genetic and environmental influences on a wide array of health conditions and diseases. The resources developed by the RPGEH are now part of the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank, a research resource planned to include data and biospecimens from 500,000 KP members with access provided by application (

Dr. Schaefer’s primary research interests focus on psychiatric and neurologic disorders. She is principal investigator of studies of prenatal factors in schizophrenia and a genome-wide association study of a multi-ethnic sample of 5800 individuals with bipolar disorder. With colleague Lisa Barcellos (UC Berkeley), she has studied genetic and non-genetic factors in the etiology and progression of multiple sclerosis. Dr. Schaefer trained in epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley and was a postdoctoral fellow in psychiatric epidemiology at Yale University (1985-88). She joined the Division of Research in 1989.