Erin Bowles, MPH

“At GHRI, 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

Group Health Research Institute Research Associate


Epidemiologist Erin Bowles is looking at cancer and aging from many different perspectives. Her research brings new insight into breast cancer risk factors and treatment, while also helping improve cancer care for patients and families.

As a key member of two large cancer collaborations—the National Cancer Institute (NCI)'s Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium and the HMO Cancer Research Network (CRN)—Ms.Bowles has developed diverse expertise that includes reading mammograms for breast density and doing statistical analyses. Her past work with Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) investigators Diana Buist, PhD, and Diana Miglioretti, PhD, confirmed that breast density is a key breast cancer risk factor. Her work with Ed Wagner, MD, MPH, resulted in a key publication showing that certain breast cancer treatments increase the risk of heart failure beyond what had been shown in clinical trials. Ms. Bowles is also passionate about doing research to help improve the quality of cancer care. She and CRN colleagues were funded through an NCI challenge grant to develop a national breast cancer surgical quality database and evaluate variation in surgical margins across facilities and providers.

Ms. Bowles' experience working with large cancer cohorts has provided her with expertise in data collection and management. She has worked with natural language processing programmers to successfully obtain findings from breast pathology and radiology reports. She has worked extensively with administrative data and published several papers on the validity of using health plan data for cancer treatment research. Recently she joined the Adult Changes in Thought study team, and is overseeing their large data repository and data sharing for aging research. She is especially interested in enhancing the efficiency of data collection on these large projects, which has been increasingly important in an era of limited funding.

Research interests and experience

  • Cancer

    Breast cancer; colorectal cancer; biostatistics; epidemiology; mammography; mammographic breast density; cancer treatment; cancer screening and surveillance; automated data collection; quality of care; medication use; natural language processing; care coordination; administrative data

  • Health Services & Economics

    Access to care; health disparities; health outcomes research; quality of life; measurement of change in health care systems; practice variation

  • Women's Health

    Menopause; hormone replacement therapy (HRT); breast cancer

  • Aging & Geriatrics

    Cognitive health and dementia; biostatistics; epidemiology; medication use




Recent publications

Mullooly M, Pfeiffer RM, Nyante SJ, Heckman-Stoddard BM, Perloff M, Jatoi I, Brinton LA, Aiello Bowles EJ, Hoover RN, Glass A, Berrington de Gonzalez A, Sherman ME, Gierach GL. Mammographic density as a biosensor of tamoxifen effectiveness in adjuvant endocrine treatment of breast cancer: opportunities and implications. J Clin Oncol. 2016 Mar 28. pii: JCO644492. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Aiello Bowles EJ, Larson EB, Pong RP, Walker RL, Anderson ML, Yu O, Gray SL, Crane PK, Dublin S. Anesthesia exposure and risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: a prospective study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Feb 11. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14024. [Epub ahead of print].

Bowles EJ, Gao H, Brandzel S, Bradford SC, Buist DS. Comparative effectiveness of two outreach strategies for cervical cancer screening. Prev Med. 2016 Jan 25. pii: S0091-7435(16)00030-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.01.016. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Nichols HB, Bowles EJA, Islam J, Madziwa L, Sturmer T, Tran DT, Buist DS. Tamoxifen initiation after ductal carcinoma in situ. Oncologist. 2016 Jan 14. pii: theoncologist.2015-0310. [Epub ahead of print].

Nyante SJ, Sherman ME, Pfeiffer RM, Berrington de Gonzalez A, Brinton LA, Aiello Bowles EJ, Hoover RN, Glass A, Gierach GL. Longitudinal change in mammographic density among ER-positive breast cancer patients using tamoxifen. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015 Nov 6. pii: cebp.0412.2015. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Chubak J, Bowles EJ, Yu O, Buist DS, Fujii M, Boudreau DM. Breast cancer recurrence in relation in antidepressant use. Cancer Causes Control. 2015 Oct 30. [Epub ahead of print].