Kara Rudolph

Kara Rudolph


I am an Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine at UC Davis.

My current work, funded by a NIDA K99/R00, is developing methods to transport mediation effects from one population to another and apply them to understand how school characteristics mediate relationships between neighborhood factors and adolescent drug use.

I graduated with a PhD (Epidemiology) and MHS (Biostatistics) from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2014. Here is my CV. Code from some of my research is on Github.

Research Interests

My research interests are in applying causal inference methods to studying social and contextual influences on mental health and substance use in disadvantaged, urban areas of the United States. My thesis work examined effect heterogeneity in the association between living in a disadvantaged neighborhood and adolescent anxiety and depression. I was advised by Tom Glass and Liz Stuart .

I'm currently working with:

  • Mark van der Laan in developing targeted minimum loss-based estimators for transporting encouragement design interventions across sites estimating mediation effects, with
  • Jen Ahern and Maria Glymour applying these estimators to understanding site variability in policy and program effects, and with
  • Magdalena Cerdá understanding the health effects of substance use policies and the risk landscape of the opioid epidemic.

Previously, I've worked closely with Michael Rosenblum and Ivàn Dìaz on evaluating simple estimators of an average treatment effect in the presence of effect heterogeneity, a double selection mechanism, and treatment bias; Kathleen Merikangas during my predoctoral fellowship at NIMH; and with Justin Lessler, Derek Cummings, and the Johns Hopkins ID dynamics group on estimating the incubation periods of various infectious diseases.

Prior to academia, I worked at Altarum Institute in Washington, DC, evaluating and providing technical assistance to local, state, and federal maternal and child health programs, such as WIC, SNAP, and other early childhood initiatives. I also supported viral vaccine manufacturing at Merck. I received an MPH from Johns Hopkins in 2008 and a BS in biochemistry from the University of Michigan in 2005.



Causal mediation analysis with observational data: considerations and illustration examining mechanisms linking neighborhood poverty to adolescent substance use. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2018; In press. Rudolph KE, Paksarian D, Crowder R, Merikangas KR, Stuart EA.
Within-community variation in violence and risk of self-harm in California: a population-based case-crossover study. Epidemiology. 2018; In press. Matthay EC, Rudolph KE, Goin DE, Farkas K, Skeem J, Ahern J.
Targeted estimation of associations between having an adult child in the US, psychical functioning, and unmet needs for care among older Mexican adults. Epidemiology. 2018; In press. Torres JM, Rudolph KE, Sofrygin O, Walter L, Glymour M, Wong R.
Repeal of comprehensive background check policies and firearm homicide and suicide. Epidemiology. 2018; 29(4): 494-502. Kagawa RMC, Castillo-Carniglia A, Vernick JS, Webster D, Shev A, Crifasi C, Rudolph KE, Cerda M, Wintemute GJ.

Military service, childhood socioeconomic status, and late life lung function: Korean War era military service associated with smaller disparities. Military Medicine. 2017; In Press. Vable AM, Kiang MV, Basu S, Rudolph KE, Kawachi I, Subramanian SV, Glymour MM.

Optimizing matching and analysis combinations for estimating causal effects. Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 23222. Colson KE, Rudolph KE, Zimmerman SC, Goin DE, Stuart EA, van der Laan, MJ, Ahern J.


Providing home visiting to high-risk pregnant and postpartum families: the development and evaluation of the MOMobile program. Zero to Three. 2014; 35(2): 40-8. Hadley B, Rudolph KE, Mogul M, Perry DF.

Incubation periods of viral gastroenteritis: a systematic review. BMC Infect Dis. 2013; 13(1): 446. Lee RM, Lessler J, Lee RA, Rudolph KE, Reich NG, Perl TM, Cummings DAT.

Under Review

Environmental noise and sleep and mental health outcomes in a nationally-representative sample of U.S. adolescents. Rudolph KE, Paksarian D, Shev A, Merikangas KR, Mennitt DJ, James P, Casey JA.
Comparing the performance of statistical methods that generalize effect estimates from randomized controlled trials to much larger target populations. Schmid, I, Rudolph KE, Nguyen T, Hong H, Seamans M, Ackerman B, Stuart EA.
Gun carrying and psychiatric disorders among adolescents in the United States. Kagawa RMC, Gary D, Wintemute GJ, Rudolph KE, Pear VA, Keyes K, Cerda M.
California’s Mental Health Services Act and mortality due to suicide, homicide, and acute effects of alcohol: a quasi-experimental study. Zimmerman S, Matthay EC, Rudolph KE, Goin DE, Farkas K, Rowe C, Ahern J.
Prevalence of mental and substance use disorders among legal intervention cases in California, 2005-2014. Farkas K, Matthay EC, Rudolph KE, Goin DE, Ahern J.
Association of the Operation Peacemaker Fellowship in Richmond, CA with city-level firearm and non firearm homicide and assault: a quasi-experimental study. Matthay EC, Farkas K, Rudolph KE, Zimmerman S, Barragan M, Goin DE, Ahern J.
Investigating how perceived availability and perceived risk of marijuana use relate to use of marijuana among adolescents in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay over time. Schleimer JP, Rivera-Aguirre A, Castillo-Carniglia A, Laqueur HS, Rudolph KE, Suarez H, Ramrez J, Somoza M, Brasesco MV, Martins SS, Cerda M.
Detecting anomalies among practice sites within multi-center trials: an application of transportability methods to the TOPCAT and ACCORD BP trials. Berkowitz SA, Rudolph KE, Basu S.
Having an adult child in the US and cognitive decline for middle-aged and older adults in Mexico: a prospective cohort study. Torres JM, Sofrygin O, Rudolph KE, Wong R, Haan MN, Glymour MM.
Firearm involvement in violent victimization and mental health. Kagawa RMC, Cerda M, Rudolph KE, Pear VA, Keyes KM, Wintemute GJ


Department of Epidemiology

  • Fundamentals of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (2011-2013)
  • Methodologic Challenges in Epidemiologic Research (2012)

Department of Biostatistics

  • Spatial Analysis and GIS I & II