Anusha Vable, ScD, MPH

Title(s)Associate Professor, Family Community Medicine
SchoolSchool of Medicine
Address2540 23rd Street, #5703
San Francisco CA 94110
ORCID ORCID Icon0000-0002-2202-0294 Additional info
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    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse Education and Training
    Grinnell College, Grinnell, IowaBA2004Chemistry
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MichiganMPH2007Epidemiology
    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MassachusettsScD2015Social Epidemiology
    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MassachusettsPostdoctoral fellow2016Social Epidemiology
    Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences, Stanford, CaliforniaPostdoctoral fellow2018Social Epidemiology
    Collapse Awards and Honors
    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health2010  - 2012Mitchell L. & Robin LaFoley Dong Scholarship
    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health2013  - 2014Harvey V. Fineberg Fellowship in Cancer Prevention
    American Public Health Association  - 2016Finalist for the Erickson Foundation Award for Excellence in Research on Positive Aging
    University of California San Francisco, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics  - 2018"Good Ideas" Contest Winner for suggesting and implementing K writing groups for postdocs
    National Institutes of Health 2019  - 2021Health Disparities Loan Repayment Program Recipient

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse Overview
    I am a Social Epidemiologist and the director of VabLab, a large research team at UCSF that focuses on identifying and advocating for structural solutions to health inequities. We employ methods from basic linear regression with interaction terms; to sophisticated approaches for identifying causal effects from epidemiology and econometrics; to sequence analysis, an approach that originated in genetics but has extensions in social science to identify common patterns in variables that unfold over time. Our research focuses on socioeconomic exposures (particularly education, but also occupation and income) and diseases associated with aging (particularly cognitive aging, but also heart disease and diabetes); I have received several R01 and R01-equivalent grants as PI or mPI to support these goals.

    Methodologically, VabLab has two areas of expertise that may be especially important for equity researchers:
    [1] Quantile regression: a method to evaluate how exposures impact the entire outcome distribution (vs. the mean, which is typically evaluated). This is important for equity research because the most structurally minoritized individuals are typically in the tails of the outcome distribution.
    [2] Sequence analysis is a powerful and underutilized method to characterize variables that occur over time or over the lifecourse. Our team has been using sequence analysis to understand educational trajectories from age 14 – 48; employment trajectories from ages 18 – 65; air pollution trajectories from 2000 – 2010; state-level abortion access trajectories from 1970 – 2014, Earned Income Tax Credit trajectories from ages 22 - 48, etc., and how these exposures predict subsequent health outcomes. Sequence analysis is descriptive, not causal, but I argue that for most exposures that cumulate over the lifecourse, we are in the descriptive phase, not the causal phase.

    Substantively, our team evaluates if socioeconomic exposures and policies are racist / discriminatory (widen inequities) or anti-racist / anti-discriminatory (narrow inequities). We have found that the Korean War GI Bill, which subsidized college education for qualifying veterans, predicted smaller socioeconomic disparities in markers of mental, physical and cognitive health among veterans compared to non-veterans. Similarly, in work led by postdoc Dr. Aayush Khadka, we found that Vietnam War GI Bill eligibility shifted and reshaped the blood pressure distribution to one of lower CVD risk and reduced childhood socioeconomic disparities in blood pressure. We have also found that structurally marginalized groups (women, racial minoritized people, and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds) seem to benefit more from each year of education than structurally advantaged groups (e.g. high socioeconomic status White men). Our work to date suggests programs and policies to increase educational attainment could be powerful mechanism to reduce racial and socioeconomic health inequities; these consistent findings inform our social change work.

    Our social change work, informed by our substantive work, focuses on building the evidence base for the state of California to invest in the public education system at 3 levels:
    [1] Early childhood (0 - 5 years): we know this period is critical and we know it’s a market failure; if it’s a market failure, it’s the government’s responsibility to fix this; they are the only ones who can.
    [2] K-12 education in California has been underfunded for decades: uneven distribution of buses, nurses, and guidance counselors; they have to fundraise for basic programming like physical education, music, and arts. Especially important for equity is decoupling the funding for public education from property taxes; that is, we need to create a system where the size of your house doesn’t determine the quality of your public education options.
    [3] Higher education: tuition at UCs and CSU systems used to be free; similarly, the reason 48,000 UC employees went on strike in 2022 has the same root cause: underfunding by the state. To make up for the budgetary shortfall caused by underinvestment by the state, our public universities are squeezing students with ballooning tuition payments and squeezing low-wage workers with barely livable wages in order to stay solvent. Higher education at public universities can become accessible to the public again if the state decides to prioritize it.

    The State of California is under-investing in our kids. We know that education is the primary mechanism for opportunity and social mobility in this country, therefore it is vital that we convince the state to adequately fund the education system. I am not talking about a one-time investment, but a massive and systemic course-correction.

    Collapse Research 
    Collapse Research Activities and Funding
    Occupational transitions across the lifecourse and dementia risk: evaluating unemployment, occupational complexity using sequence analysis
    NIH R01AG074351Aug 15, 2021 - Apr 30, 2026
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Evaluation of college accessibility and income security interventions as preventative measures for dementia risk and solutions to dementia disparities
    NIH R01AG069092Sep 15, 2020 - May 31, 2025
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Evaluation of college accessibility and income security interventions as preventative measures for dementia risk and solutions to dementia disparities
    NIH/NIA R01AG069092Sep 15, 2020 - May 31, 2025
    Role: PI
    Description: This proposal evaluates socioeconomic interventions that increased years of education (Aim 1) and income security (Aim 2) to determine if such interventions impacted dementia risk overall, and whether structurally minoritized groups (Black Americans, individuals from low childhood SES backgrounds, and people who grew up in rural areas or the South) differentially benefited (Aim 3). We hypothesize that these interventions reduced dementia risk overall, and that structurally minoritized groups benefitted more resulting in smaller socioeconomic, racial, and geographic disparities.
    Reducing socioeconomic and racial disparities in CVD: evaluation of potential effects of educational interventions
    American Heart Association 19CDA34660304Apr 1, 2019 - Mar 31, 2022
    Role: PI
    Description: I will evaluate if socially vulnerable groups benefit more from educational policies than socially advantaged groups resulting in smaller socioeconomic and racial disparities in CVD outcomes.
    Educational Trajectories & Health: When people finish school and how it matters
    NIH/NIA 5R01AG05636003Jun 1, 2018 - May 31, 2022
    Role: Co-Investigator on Administrative Supplement
    Description: I am overseeing the analyses for the administrative supplement to extend our work on educational trajectories and health to cognition and cognitive decline.

    Collapse ORNG Applications 
    Collapse Featured Publications

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    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse Publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help. to make corrections and additions.
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    Altmetrics Details PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. First-generation college graduates have similar depressive symptoms in midlife as multi-generational college graduates. SSM Popul Health. 2024 Mar; 25:101633. Meza E, Hebert J, Garcia ME, Torres JM, Glymour MM, Vable AM. PMID: 38434443; PMCID: PMC10905036.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:
    2. Food Insecurity, Memory, and Dementia Among US Adults Aged 50 Years and Older. JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Nov 01; 6(11):e2344186. Qian H, Khadka A, Martinez SM, Singh S, Brenowitz WD, Zeki Al Hazzouri A, Hill-Jarrett TG, Glymour MM, Vable AM. PMID: 37988079; PMCID: PMC10663972.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    3. Associations of Food Insecurity and Memory Function Among Middle to Older-Aged Adults in the Health and Retirement Study. JAMA Netw Open. 2023 07 03; 6(7):e2321474. Lu P, Kezios K, Jawadekar N, Swift S, Vable A, Zeki Al Hazzouri A. PMID: 37399013; PMCID: PMC10318471.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    4. Childhood Residential Mobility and Mental and Physical Health in Later Life: Findings From the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) Study. J Appl Gerontol. 2023 08; 42(8):1859-1866. Yen IH, Bennett A, Allen S, Vable A, Long DL, Brooks M, Ream RK, Crowe M, Howard VJ. PMID: 37013813; PMCID: PMC10394967.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    5. Lifecourse Educational Trajectories and Hypertension in Midlife: An Application of Sequence Analysis. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2022 02 03; 77(2):383-391. Duarte CD, Wannier SR, Cohen AK, Glymour MM, Ream RK, Yen IH, Vable AM. PMID: 34455437; PMCID: PMC8824562.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 4     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    6. Code Review as a Simple Trick to Enhance Reproducibility, Accelerate Learning, and Improve the Quality of Your Team's Research. Am J Epidemiol. 2021 10 01; 190(10):2172-2177. Vable AM, Diehl SF, Glymour MM. PMID: 33834188.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 14     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    7. Vable et al. Respond to "Code Review-A Step Toward Reproducibility". Am J Epidemiol. 2021 10 01; 190(10):2180. Vable AM, Diehl SF, Glymour MM. PMID: 33834195.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    8. Understanding the benefits of different types and timing of education for mental health: A sequence analysis approach. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2021 Aug 13. Vable AM, Duarte CDP, Wannier SR, Chan-Golston AM, Cohen AK, Glymour MM, Ream RK, Yen IH. PMID: 34387339; PMCID: PMC10935480.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    
    9. Does the Type and Timing of Educational Attainment Influence Physical Health? A Novel Application of Sequence Analysis. Am J Epidemiol. 2020 11 02; 189(11):1389-1401. Vable AM, Duarte CD, Cohen AK, Glymour MM, Ream RK, Yen IH. PMID: 32676653; PMCID: PMC7604526.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 9     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    10. Short-term effects of the earned income tax credit on mental health and health behaviors. Prev Med. 2020 10; 139:106223. Collin DF, Shields-Zeeman LS, Batra A, Vable AM, Rehkopf DH, Machen L, Hamad R. PMID: 32735990; PMCID: PMC7494578.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 5     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    11. Homelessness, housing instability, and abortion outcomes at an urban abortion clinic in the United States. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2020 12; 223(6):892.e1-892.e12. Orlando MS, Vable AM, Holt K, Wingo E, Newmann S, Shapiro BJ, Borne D, Drey EA, Seidman D. PMID: 32640198.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 2     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    12. Is it possible to overcome the 'long arm' of childhood socioeconomic disadvantage through upward socioeconomic mobility? J Public Health (Oxf). 2019 09 30; 41(3):566-574. Vable AM, Gilsanz P, Kawachi I. PMID: 30811528; PMCID: PMC7967879.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 6     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    13. Performance of Matching Methods as Compared With Unmatched Ordinary Least Squares Regression Under Constant Effects. Am J Epidemiol. 2019 07 01; 188(7):1345-1354. Vable AM, Kiang MV, Glymour MM, Rigdon J, Drabo EF, Basu S. PMID: 30995301; PMCID: PMC6601529.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    14. Quality and quantity: The association of state-level educational policies with later life cardiovascular disease. Prev Med. 2019 09; 126:105750. Hamad R, Nguyen TT, Glymour MM, Vable A, Manly JJ, Rehkopf DH. PMID: 31195021; PMCID: PMC6697595.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    15. Differential associations between state-level educational quality and cardiovascular health by race: Early-life exposures and late-life health. SSM Popul Health. 2019 Aug; 8:100418. Vable AM, Nguyen TT, Rehkopf D, Glymour MM, Hamad R. PMID: 31249857; PMCID: PMC6586990.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 7  
    16. Do the health benefits of education vary by sociodemographic subgroup? Differential returns to education and implications for health inequities. Ann Epidemiol. 2018 11; 28(11):759-766.e5. Vable AM, Cohen AK, Leonard SA, Glymour MM, Duarte CDP, Yen IH. PMID: 30309690; PMCID: PMC6215723.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 20     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    17. Military Service, Childhood Socio-Economic Status, and Late-Life Lung Function: Korean War Era Military Service Associated with Smaller Disparities. Mil Med. 2018 09 01; 183(9-10):e576-e582. Vable AM, Kiang MV, Basu S, Rudolph KE, Kawachi I, Subramanian SV, Glymour MM. PMID: 29509934; PMCID: PMC6119642.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 7     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    18. Mother's education and late-life disparities in memory and dementia risk among US military veterans and non-veterans. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2018 12; 72(12):1162-1167. Vable AM, Eng CW, Mayeda ER, Basu S, Marden JR, Hamad R, Glymour MM. PMID: 30082424; PMCID: PMC6226315.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 10     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    19. Trends for Reported Discrimination in Health Care in a National Sample of Older Adults with Chronic Conditions. J Gen Intern Med. 2018 03; 33(3):291-297. Nguyen TT, Vable AM, Glymour MM, Nuru-Jeter A. PMID: 29247435; PMCID: PMC5834956.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 19     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    20. Validation of a theoretically motivated approach to measuring childhood socioeconomic circumstances in the Health and Retirement Study. PLoS One. 2017; 12(10):e0185898. Vable AM, Gilsanz P, Nguyen TT, Kawachi I, Glymour MM. PMID: 29028834; PMCID: PMC5640422.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 29     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    21. Discrimination in health care and biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk in U.S. adults. Social Science and Medicine Population Health. 2017; 7:100306. Nguyen TT, Vable AM, Glymour MM, Nuru-Jeter A. View Publication.
    22. Are There Spillover Effects from the GI Bill? The Mental Health of Wives of Korean War Veterans. PLoS One. 2016; 11(5):e0154203. Vable AM, Kawachi I, Canning D, Glymour MM, Jimenez MP, Subramanian SV. PMID: 27186983; PMCID: PMC4871362.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:HumansPHPublic Health
    23. Can social policy influence socioeconomic disparities? Korean War GI Bill eligibility and markers of depression. Ann Epidemiol. 2016 Feb; 26(2):129-135.e3. Vable AM, Canning D, Glymour MM, Kawachi I, Jimenez MP, Subramanian SV. PMID: 26778285; PMCID: PMC5508577.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 12     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    24. Does the "widowhood effect" precede spousal bereavement? Results from a nationally representative sample of older adults. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2015 Mar; 23(3):283-92. Vable AM, Subramanian SV, Rist PM, Glymour MM. PMID: 24974142; PMCID: PMC5511695.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 20     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    25. Outcomes of the Botswana national HIV/AIDS treatment programme from 2002 to 2010: a longitudinal analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2014 Jan; 2(1):e44-50. Farahani M, Vable A, Lebelonyane R, Seipone K, Anderson M, Avalos A, Chadborn T, Tilahun H, Roumis D, Moeti T, Musuka G, Busang L, Gaolathe T, Malefho KC, Marlink R. PMID: 25104635.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 41     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    26. Short- and long-term associations between widowhood and mortality in the United States: longitudinal analyses. J Public Health (Oxf). 2014 Sep; 36(3):382-9. Moon JR, Glymour MM, Vable AM, Liu SY, Subramanian SV. PMID: 24167198; PMCID: PMC4181424.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 17     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    27. Undergoing transformation to the patient centered medical home in safety net health centers: perspectives from the front lines. Ethn Dis. 2013; 23(3):356-62. Quinn MT, Gunter KE, Nocon RS, Lewis SE, Vable AM, Tang H, Park SY, Casalino LP, Huang ES, Birnberg J, Burnet DL, Summerfelt WT, Chin MH. PMID: 23914423; PMCID: PMC3740439.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 20     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    28. Combating Obesity at Community Health Centers (COACH): a quality improvement collaborative for weight management programs. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2013; 24(2 Suppl):47-60. Wilkes AE, John PM, Vable AM, Campbell A, Heuer L, Schaefer C, Vinci L, Drum ML, Chin MH, Quinn MT, Burnet DL. PMID: 23727964; PMCID: PMC3750964.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 3     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    29. Patient-centered medical home characteristics and staff morale in safety net clinics. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Jan 09; 172(1):23-31. Lewis SE, Nocon RS, Tang H, Park SY, Vable AM, Casalino LP, Huang ES, Quinn MT, Burnet DL, Summerfelt WT, Birnberg JM, Chin MH. PMID: 22232143; PMCID: PMC3752653.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 38     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    30. Development of a safety net medical home scale for clinics. J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Dec; 26(12):1418-25. Birnberg JM, Drum ML, Huang ES, Casalino LP, Lewis SE, Vable AM, Tang H, Quinn MT, Burnet DL, Summerfelt T, Chin MH. PMID: 21837377; PMCID: PMC3235610.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 23     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    31. Implications of the new definition of diabetes for health disparities. J Natl Med Assoc. 2011 Mar; 103(3):219-23. Vable AM, Drum ML, Tang H, Chin MH, Lindau ST, Huang ES. PMID: 21671525; PMCID: PMC3401566.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 1     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    32. Sexuality among middle-aged and older adults with diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes: a national, population-based study. Diabetes Care. 2010 Oct; 33(10):2202-10. Lindau ST, Tang H, Gomero A, Vable A, Huang ES, Drum ML, Qato DM, Chin MH. PMID: 20802158; PMCID: PMC2945161.
      View in: PubMed   Mentions: 22     Fields:    Translation:Humans
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