Louise C. Walter, MD
Professor of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, UCSF
Dr. Walter is Chief of the Division of Geriatrics at UCSF and the San Francisco VA Health Care System (SFVAHCS) and a clinician-researcher who is an international leader in evaluating the real-world risks and benefits of cancer screening and surveillance in older adults. Dr. Walter received her MD from Stanford University in 1995. She completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in Geriatrics at UCSF and joined the UCSF faculty in July 2001. She is a geriatrician at the SFVAHCS Geriatrics Clinic, Interim Director of the UCSF Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Career Development (K Scholars) Program, a faculty leader for the Mentoring and Career Development Core of the NIH-funded Clinician Scientists Transdisciplinary Aging Research (Clin-STAR) Program, and Director of Geriatrics Health Services Research & Development at SFVAHCS.
Dr. Walter has transformed our approach to cancer screening in older adults. She has developed novel methodology demonstrating the fundamental importance of life expectancy rather than age in determining benefits and risks of screening. Virtually every cancer screening guideline cites her research. Further, in 2014, Dr. Walter’s JAMA article, “Cancer Screening in Elderly Patients: A Framework for Individualized Decision Making,” was selected in a national survey of geriatricians as one of the 27 landmark articles that have advanced the field of Geriatrics. In 2012, Dr. Walter was elected into the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI).
In addition, Dr. Walter led a series of seminal studies demonstrating decisions to screen older adults for cancer are often dictated more by age than health such that many patients in poor health continue to undergo screening while many healthy older patients fail to get screened. Also, she discovered that cancer screening frequently leads to significant harms without benefit in patients in poor health and developed a taxonomy and quantification of screening harms. This quantification of downstream harms has also been applied to study outcomes of other procedures performed in frail older adults in poor health, such as tight glycemic control, chemotherapy and surgery.
Dr. Walter is Principal Investigator of Tideswell at UCSF, a center to mentor and develop future leaders in aging. Dr. Walter views mentoring as one of her most important academic activities. In 2010, nomination letters from her mentees led to her receipt of the UCSF Academic Senate Distinction in Mentoring Award, one of the highest awards at UCSF given annually to one faculty member in recognition of “exceptional mentoring to fellows and faculty. Dr. Walter also serves as the Core Director of the UCSF Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center’s Career Development (REC) Core.
Stanford University, Stanford, CA, B.S., 1990, Biology
Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, M.D., 1995, Internal Medicine
University of California, San Francisco (Advanced Training in Clinical Research Program), Certificate, 1999, Clinical Epidemiology