The Kaiser Permanente Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health

The mapping of the genome gave scientists the means to investigate the link between human biological make-up and disease predisposition. But biorepositories of DNA samples enabling this type of research have been too small, and, often, too homogenous to be able to support conclusions relevant for entire populations. Also, it hasn't been possible to consider effects of environmental factors, such as air and water quality and healthy foods, or to easily obtain information on development of health conditions and risk factors. Without these crucial pieces, advance knowledge about the genetic and environmental basis of health and disease, and the availability of that knowledge to improve human health, has been limited.

Kaiser Permanente is building a massive genetic, environmental, and health database that will provide researchers unprecedented ability to determine which genes, environmental factors, lifestyles, and habits are linked with specific diseases and health conditions. In 2008, RWJF enabled Kaiser to take a giant step forward with an $8.6 million award to gather, store, and protect its first 200,000 DNA samples and to develop policies to enable broad access to the databank. In 2009, the National Institutes of Health built upon our investment with a $24.8 million grant to support the genotyping of the first 100,000 of these samples and to link this information to decades' worth of historical clinical data, gathered from health surveys and Kaiser Permanente electronic health records. Kaiser aims to have collected 500,000 DNA samples by 2013, enabling groundbreaking research.

View grant details


Kaiser Foundation Research Institute

Neil Risch
Project Director

Catherine Schaefer
Project Director

RPGEH Biobank
RPGEH Biobank
RPGEH Biobank
RPGEH Biobank


Ever wonder how your genetic makeup affects your daily life and health?

The RPGEH biobank is a powerful engine of discovery: conducting studies and potentially finding new treatments and cures.

This resource will help speed progress toward personalized medical care and contribute to a better understanding of how genetic factors, lifestyles, behavior, and environment can interact to affect a person’s health.

It is also an investment in prevention of disease and in better care for people living with illness--part of a long term strategy for getting health care costs under control through earlier detection, more effective treatments, and ultimately prevention of disease entirely.

News Releases


Kaiser Permanente and UCSF Add Substantial Genetic, Health Information to NIH Online Database

February 26, 2014 | News Release

Researchers worldwide will now have access to genetic data linked to medical information on a diverse group of more than 78,000 people, enabling investigations into many diseases and conditions.


Kaiser Permanente "Biobank" Receives $25-Million Grant from National Institutes of Health

October 12, 2009 | News Release

New platform for cross-researching genetic, health, environmental data could lead to better treatments, new ways to prevent illness.


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Awards $8.6-Million Grant to Kaiser Permanente to Develop Largest, Most Diverse U.S. Biobank

December 17, 2008 | News Release

Database has power to reveal environmental and genetic factors behind many deadly diseases; groundbreaking research will lead to better treatments.

PBS NewsHour Features Biobank

Watch and learn more about how Catherine Schaefer, Neil Risch and 200,000 Kaiser members are accelerating the pace of medical research and bringing the future potential of genomics into the here and now. 

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