Faculty Profile

Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D.

Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D.

Distinguished University Professor Emerita, Department of Epidemiology & Population Health

Dorothy and William Manealoff Foundation and Molly Rosen Chair in Social Medicine Emerita

Site PI, Women's Health Initiative

Areas of Research: cardiovascular risk, stroke, depression, hypertension, biomarkers, women's health, Hispanic health

Professional Interests

My primary research focuses on cardiovascular disease and associated risk factors, particularly hypertension. Our Women's Health Initiative (WHI) of which I am a Principal Investogator,  is a set of clinical trials and observational studies of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, cognition, nutrition and other health issues facing older women. Extensive in scope, the WHI includes 39 clinical centers in the U.S. involving 161,000 women ages 50-79, with long-term follow-up. We also examine biomarkers predicting stroke, brain imaging studies, influence of hormones on dementia, and effect of depression and medications on cardiovascular outcomes. As the WHI conducts extended follow-up and new ancillary studies, the focus is on aging, cognition, obesity, long-term effects of hormones , sleep, depression, and associated genetic studies.

Our Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL) involves 16,000 Hispanic men and women of different ethnic origins, ages 18-74, followed in four field sites. We look at risk and protective factors for cardiovascular health in relation to ethnicity, acculturation and other variables. We also assess the risks for diabetes and sleep disorders, and examine cognition, pulmonary function, physical activity, hearing, dental health and dietary patterns. Blood biomarker and genetic studies are as well a component of the HCHS/SOL.

We are also a part of an international consortium looking at genetics of ischemic stroke: the NINDS Stroke Gnetics Networds (SiGN). 

I am the author of the book Biostatistics and Epidemiology, a Primer for Health and Biomedical Professionals, published by Springer, now in its fourth edition. I am also an author of a historical, World War II novel, entitled Rachel and Aleks. In addition to my own research, I enjoy mentoring students and junior faculty and supervise some of their research projects.


You may also visit my personal page at www.sylviasmoller.com

Selected Publications

    1. Berger JS, McGinn AP, Howard BV, Kuller L, Manson JE, Otvos J, Curb JD, Eaton CB, Kaplan RC, Lynch JK, Rosenbaum DM, Wassertheil-Smoller S. Lipid and lipoprotein biomarkers and the risk of ischemic stroke in postmenopausal women. Stroke. 2012 Apr;43(4):958-66. Epub 2012 Feb 2.
    2. Daviglus ML, Talavera GA, Aviles-Santa ML, Allison M, Cai J, Criqui MH, Gellman M, Giachello AL, Gouskova N, Kaplan RC, LaVange L, Penedo F, Perreira K, Pirzada A, Schneiderman N, Wassertheil-Smoller S, Sorlie PD, Stamler J. Prevalence of major cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular diseases among Hispanic/Latino individuals of diverse backgrounds in the United States. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012;308:1775-1784
    3. Wassertheil-Smoller, S., McGinn, A., Allison, M., Ca, T., Curb, D., Eaton, C., Hendrix, S., Kaplan, R., Ko, M., Martin, L. W. and Xue, X. (2012), Improvement in stroke risk prediction: role of C-reactive protein and lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 in the women's health initiative. International Journal of Stroke. 
    4. Seth A, Mossavar-Rahmani Y, Kamensky V, Silver B, Lakshminarayan K, Prentice R, Van Horn L, Wassertheil-Smoller S. Potassium Intake and Risk of Stroke in Women With Hypertension and Nonhypertension in the Women's Health Initiative. Stroke. 2014 Oct;45(10):2874-80. 
    5. Wassertheil-Smoller, S, Arredondo, EM, Cai,JW, Castenada, Sheila, Choca, JP, Gallo L, Jung M, LaVange LM, Lee-Rey ET, Mosley T, PenedoFJ, Santistaban DA,, Zee, PC. Depression, anxiety, antidepressant use, and cardiovascular disease among Hispanic men and women of different national backgrounds: results from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL), Annals of Epidemiology. 2014;24:822-30.
    6. Haring B, Wu C, Mossavar-Rahmani Y, Snetselaar L, Brunner R, Wallace RB, Neuhouser ML, Wassertheil-Smoller S. No Association between Dietary Patterns and Risk for Cognitive Decline in Older Women with 9-Year Follow-Up: Data from the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016 Feb 23. pii: S2212-2672(15)01815-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.12.017. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27050728.276.            
    7. Haring B, Wu C, Coker LH, Seth A, Snetselaar L, Manson JE, Rossouw JE, Wassertheil-Smoller S. Hypertension, Dietary Sodium, and Cognitive Decline: Results From the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study. Am J Hypertens. 2015 Jul 1. pii: hpv081. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26137952. Zambrana RE, López L, Dinwiddie GY, Ray RM, Eaton CB, Phillips LS, Wassertheil-Smoller S. Association of Baseline Depressive Symptoms with Prevalent and Incident Pre-Hypertension and Hypertension in Postmenopausal Hispanic Women: Results from the Women's Health Initiative. PLoS One. 2016 Apr 28;11(4):e0152765. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152765. eCollection 2016. PubMed PMID: 27124184; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4849764.SM,
    8. Dunn EC, Sofer T, Gallo LC, Gogarten SM, Kerr KF, Chen CY, Stein MB, Ursano RJ, Guo X, Jia Y, Qi Q, Rotter JI, Argos M, Cai J, Penedo FJ, Perreira K, Wassertheil-Smoller S, Smoller JW. Genome-wide association study of generalized anxiety symptoms in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2017 Mar;174(2):132-143. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.32448. PubMed PMID: 27159506.
  1. A complete list of my publications is at 


More Information About Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller

Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller faculty page

book/historical novel page

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Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Belfer Building, Room 1308B
Bronx, NY 10461

Tel: 718.430.2358
Fax: 718.430.3076

Research Information

In the News

Habla Español? Hispanics Face Growing Mental Health Care Crisis

Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., comments on her 2014 research that found mental health issues may be undertreated in U.S. Hispanic and Latino populations, especially for those without insurance. Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller is distinguished university professor emerita of epidemiology & population health.

The Huffington Post quotes Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller about her research that found potassium-rich foods cut the risk of stroke and death in older women.

More media coverage