Kathryn Rexrode, MD, MPH

Chief, Division of Women’s Health

Dr. Kathryn Rexrode’s women’s health research expertise lies in understanding cardiovascular disease in women, particularly the role of obesity and hormonal factors, as well as the influence and intersection of sex and gender in health and disease. Dr. Rexrode received her MD from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and completed her residency in primary care at BWH. She then completed an epidemiology research fellowship at BWH and earned her MPH from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

In addition to her leadership roles and research efforts, Dr. Rexrode also practices primary care at Gretchen S. and Edward A. Fish Center for Women’s Health in Chestnut Hill. She is actively involved in a number of committees and professional societies, including serving as co-chair for the Connors-BRI Center for Research on Women’s Health and Gender Biology Research Advisory Committee (RAC) at BWH, and serving chair of the Women and Special Populations Committee of the AHA. Dr. Rexrode is recognized as a committed teacher and mentor, and in 2016, was awarded with the coveted A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award from HMS as well as the BWH Pillar Award for Senior Mentorship in 2020. As director for the Office for Women’s Careers in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, she works to support women’s careers and their academic advancement, to address issues of diversity and inclusion, and to reduce the impact of unconscious bias. In this role, she also leads the Women’s Leadership Program for women junior faculty at BWH and has lectured widely on leadership skills for women in academic medicine.

Dr. Rexrode has broad and deep research experience in women’s health. She is the author of more than 250 research publications and she leads several large grants from the NHLBI and NCI, and has been continuously funded by the NIH since 2002. Her current research focuses on the impact of metabolism on the risk of heart disease and stroke in women. She is also examining interventions that might reduce breast density in women, thereby reducing the risk of breast cancer.

Brigham & Women’s Hospital
Physician, Division of Women’s Health, Department of Medicine; Physician, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine; Physician, Division of Preventive Medicine, Department of Medicine; Faculty Director, Office for Women’s Careers, Center for Diversity and Inclusion

Harvard Medical School

Professor of Medicine

Areas of Expertise

Current Research

Dr. Rexrode leads several projects related to stroke and cardiovascular disease in women.  She has a particular interest in metabolic factors, hormonal exposures and sex-specific risk factors for cardiovascular disease. She leads analyses of stroke risk factors in the Nurses Health Study (NHS) cohorts and is currently testing metabolomic profiles as promising markers for risk of ischemic stroke in women. She has studied metabolomics of coronary heart disease and is actively involved in many other metabolomic projects.  Dr. Rexrode has also led several research project related to breast density, including the impact of postmenopausal hormone therapy and the effects of randomized vitamin D on mammographic density, breast morphology and RNA expression in benign and malignant breast tissue.




  • Risk Factors for Ischemic Stroke in Women (NHLBI, PI)
  • Statistical Methods for Large-Scale, Prospective, Epidemiologic Studies (NHLBI, Site-PI/Co-I)
  • Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease in Women: Nurses’ Health Study (NHLBI, Investigator)
  • The Effects of Vitamin D on Mammographic Density and Breast Tissue (NCI, MPI)
  • Development and Application of a Metabolomic Profile of Chronic Distress to Cardiometabolic Risk (NIA, Site-PI/Co-I)
  • Integrating Lifecourse Approaches, Biologic and Digital Phenotypes in Support of Heart and Lung Disease Epidemiologic Research (NHLBI, Co-I)
  • BIRCWH: Hormones and Genes in Women’s Health: Bench to Bedside (NICHD, MPI)

Select Past Research

  • Metabolomics of CHD in the WHI (NHLBI, PI)
    Examined the association of metabolomics profiles and risk of coronary heart disease among women in the WHI and identified novel markers for CHD. This study also quantified metabolomic profile changes with the randomized hormone therapy.
  • NINDS SiGN Study (NINDS, Site-PI)
    Examined genetic predictors of ischemic stroke, by combining data from 22 ongoing studies to create a multi-center, consortia, genome-wide association study (GWAS). Dr. Rexrode led the NHS site and served as chair of the Publications/Data Access Committee.
  • The Effects of Randomized, Low-dose Hormone Therapy on Mammographic Density in Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) (NCI, MPI)
    Collected mammographic data on women in KEEPS to examine the effect of randomized, low-dose, combined estrogen and progesterone therapy on breast density and rates of breast biopsy. Results added important information about the balance of risks and benefits associated with low-dose hormone therapy.

Select Publications

Chandler PD, Balasubramanian R, Paynter N, Giulianini F, Fung T, Tinker LF, Snetselaar L, Liu S, Eaton C, Tobias DK, Tabung FK, Manson JE, Giovannucci EL, Clish C, Rexrode KM. Metabolic signatures associated with Western and Prudent dietary patterns in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 Aug 1;112(2):268-283. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqaa131. PMID: 32520313; PMCID: PMC7398790.


Hu J, Lin JH, Jiménez MC, Manson JE, Hankinson SE, Rexrode KM. Plasma Estradiol and Testosterone Levels and Ischemic Stroke in Postmenopausal Women. Stroke. 2020 Apr;51(4):1297-1300. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.119.028588. Epub 2020 Feb 14. PMID: 32078496; PMCID: PMC7159036.


Bartz D, Chitnis T, Kaiser UB, Rich-Edwards JW, Rexrode KM, Pennell PB, Goldstein JM, O’Neal MA, LeBoff M, Behn M, Seely EW, Joffe H, Manson JE. Clinical Advances in Sex- and Gender-Informed Medicine to Improve the Health of All: A Review. JAMA Intern Med. 2020 Apr 1;180(4):574-583. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.7194. PMID: 32040165.


Balasubramanian R, Paynter NP, Giulianini F, Manson JE, Zhao Y, Chen JC, Vitolins MZ, Albert CA, Clish C, Rexrode KM. Metabolomic profiles associated with all-cause mortality in the Women’s Health Initiative. Int J Epidemiol. 2020 Feb 1;49(1):289-300. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyz211. PMID: 31651959; PMCID: PMC7124492.


Demel SL, Kittner S, Ley SH, McDermott M, Rexrode KM. Stroke Risk Factors Unique to Women. Stroke. 2018 Mar;49(3):518-523. PMCID:PMC5909714


Paynter NP, Balasubramanian R, Giulianini F, Wang DD, Tinker LF, Gopal S, Deik AA, Bullock K, Pierce KA, Scott J, Martínez-González MA, Estruch R, Manson JE, Cook NR, Albert CA, Clish CB, Rexrode KM. Metabolic Predictors of Incident Coronary Heart Disease in Women. Circulation. 2018. 2018 Feb 20;137(8):841-853. PMCID:PMC5854187


Regensteiner JG, Golden S, Huebschmann AG, Barrett-Connor E, Chang AY, Chyun D, Fox CS, Kim C, MD, Mehta N, Reckelhoff JF, Reusch JEB, Rexrode KM, Sumner AE, Welty FK, Wenger NK, Anton B, on behalf of the American Heart Association Diabetes Committee of the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, Council on Functional Genomics and Translational Biology, and Council on Hypertension. Sex Differences in the Cardiovascular Consequences of Diabetes Mellitus: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2015 Dec 22;132(25):2424-47. PMID:26644329


Bushnell C, McCullough LD, Awad IA, Chireau MV, Fedder WN, Furie KL, Howard VJ, Lichtman JH, Lisabeth LD, Piña IL, Reeves MJ, Rexrode KM, Saposnik G, Singh V, Towfighi A, Vaccarino V, Walters MR; on behalf of the American Heart Association Stroke Council, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, Council on Clinical Cardiology, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and Council for High Blood Pressure Research. Guidelines for the prevention of stroke in women: a statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2014 May;45(5):1545-88. PMID:24503673


Sun Q, Kiernan UA, Shi L, Phillips DA, Kahn BB, Hu FB, Manson JE, Albert CM, Rexrode KM. Plasma Retinol-binding Protein 4 (RBP4) Levels and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Prospective Analysis among Women in the Nurses’ Health Study. Circulation. 2013; 14;127(19):1938-47. PMCID:PMC3741657


Jimenez M, Sun Q, Schürks M, Chiuve S, Hu FB, Manson JE, Rexrode KM. Low dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate is associated with increased risk of ischemic stroke among women. Stroke. 2013; 44(7):1784-9. PMCID:PMC3811081


Grodstein F, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Rexrode KM. Postmenopausal hormone therapy and stroke: Role of time since menopause and age at initiation of hormone therapy. Arch Intern Med. 2008; 168:861-6. PMCID:PMC4001717


Rexrode KM, Manson JE, Lee I-M, Ridker PM, Sluss PM, Cook NR, Buring JE. Sex hormone levels and risk of cardiovascular events in postmenopausal women. Circulation. 2003; 108:1688-93.


Rexrode KM, Carey VJ, Hennekens CH, Walters EE, Colditz GA, Stampfer MJ, Speizer FE, Willett WC, Speizer FE, Manson JE. Abdominal adiposity and the risk of coronary heart disease in women. JAMA. 1998; 280:1843-48.


Rexrode KM, Hennekens CH, Willett WC, Colditz GA, Stampfer MJ, Rich-Edwards JW, Speizer FE, Manson JE. A prospective study of body mass index, weight change and risk of stroke in women. JAMA. 1997; 277:1539-45.