Carolyn M. Rutter, PhD

“We collaborate with clinicians to identify meaningful research questions, then answer them by making the most of our data resources.”

Carolyn M. Rutter, PhD

Group Health Research Institute Senior Investigator


Developing biostatistical methods to advance research related to health services and health policy is important to Carolyn Rutter. She provides consistent leadership and innovation that has helped Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) grow a world-class program in biostatistics.

Dr. Rutter’s current research focuses primarily on colorectal cancer screening. She is keenly interested in applying and developing microsimulation models for colorectal  cancer—and in developing methods to calibrate these models. Dr. Rutter is the  principal investigator for a colorectal cancer screening project funded through the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer  Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET), a nationwide collaboration that uses comparative modeling to help understand cancer screening, prevention, and treatment.

Dr. Rutter is also a principal investigator for one of three PROSPR Research Centers focused on colorectal cancer. PROSPR is a nationwide consortium focused on better understanding how to improve the screening process (recruitment, screening, diagnosis, referral for treatment) for breast,  colon, and cervical cancer. The GHRI-led project, “Studying Colorectal Cancer: Effectiveness of Screening Strategies” (SuCCESS), focuses on developing evidence to inform personalized screening recommendations, with an emphasis on identifying optimal screening regimens that maintain most or all of  the benefits of intensive regimens while minimizing risks and costs and  respecting patient preferences.

Dr. Rutter also has extensive experience in Bayesian modeling, including  developing Bayesian meta-analytic models to examine the accuracy of diagnostic  tests. Her other areas of expertise include provider profiling and statistical  methods for mental health research.

Dr. Rutter is past chair of the Health Policy Statistics Section of the  American Statistical Association and is a fellow of the American Statistical Association. She was GHRI’s lead statistician from 2003 to 2008 and still actively supports the Institute’s biostatistics program. She is also an affiliate professor at the University of Washington in the Departments of Biostatistics and Health Services.

Research interests and experience

  • Biostatistics

    Microsimulation modeling; Bayesian methods; meta-analysis;       assessment of diagnostic tests; provider profiling

  • Cancer

    Colorectal cancer screening; breast cancer screening

  • Mental Health

    Depression treatment and treatment adherence

Recent publications

Lansdorp-Vogelaar I, Gulati R, Mariotto AB, Schechter CB, de Carvalho TM, Knudsen AB, van Ravesteyn NT, Heijnsdijk EA, Pabiniak C, van Ballegooijen M, Rutter CM, Kuntz KM, Feuer EJ, Etzioni R, de Koning HJ, Zauber AG, Mandelblatt JS.

Personalizing age of cancer screening cessation based on comorbid conditions: model estimates of harms and benefits.

Ann Intern Med. 2014;161(2):104-12. doi: 10.7326/M13-2867. PubMed

Rutter CM, Johnson EA, Feuer EJ, Knudsen AB, Kuntz KM, Schrag D.

Secular trends in colon and rectal cancer relative survival.

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 Dec 4;105(23):1806-13. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt299. Epub Oct 30. PubMed

Zheng W, Rutter C.

Estimated mean sojourn time associated with Hemoccult SENSA for detection of proximal and distal colorectal cancer.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2012 Oct;21(10):1722-30. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-0561. Epub 2012 Aug 21. PubMed

Rutter CM, Shortreed SM.

Writing a clinically appraised topic is a team sport.

Acad Radiol. 2012 Jul;19(7):777-8. PubMed