Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation

Now in its 29th year, the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation is a multi-site, multi-ethnic longitudinal, study designed to examine the health — physical, biological, psychological and social changes — of women during the midlife and as they age. The resulting research helps scientists, health care providers and women learn how mid-life experiences affect health and quality of life during the midlife and as they age. The SWAN cohort was recruited from six states and enrolled in 1996-97, consisting of 3,302 African American, White, Chinese, Hispanic, and Japanese women. SWAN (SWAN Aging) has recently been funded to understand the impact of midlife on health in early old-age. SWAN Aging is funded by NIA and the ORWH (U19 AG 063720). SWAN is funded by National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH).

Key Personnel (SWAN VI Aging)

  • Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez, MPH, PhD, Principal Investigator
  • Siobán D. Harlow, PhD, Co-Investigator
  • Ana Baylin, MD, DrPH, Co-Investigator
  • Michael R Elliott, PhD, Co-Investigator
  • Lisa (Elizabeth) Jackson, MD, Co-Investigator
  • Janis Miriam Miller, Co-Investigator
  • Sung Kyun Park, ScD, Co-Investigator
  • John F Randolph, MD, Co-Investigator
  • Barbara Reed, MD, Co-Investigator
  • Leslie Swanson, MD, Co-Investigator
  • Kerry McCullough, Project Director
  • Michelle Hood, Research Analyst
  • Tom Richards, Data Manager

Key Personnel (SWAN Lab)

  • Daniel S. McConnell, PhD, Principal Investigator
  • Jill Priestly, Laboratory Manager
  • Wade Sanders, Graduate Student Research Assistant

Studies related to SWAN

  • Knee Osteoarthritis: intersections of obesity, inflammation and metabolic dysfunction (Arthritis Foundation)
  • Functional Status and the Menopausal Transition
  • SWAN Sleep Study (NIA)
  • Ultrasound-Diagnosed Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • SWAN Multi-Pollutant Study
  • Using Metabolomics to Identify Novel Biomarkers for Knee Osteoarthritis

Clinical Site

  • Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation - AGING (SWAN)
  • U-M School of Public Health
  • 1415 Washington Heights, Room B866 SPH I
  • Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029
  • Phone: (734) 647-5068
  • Map + Directions


These are the most recent news items for the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. View all Center news.

IN THE NEWS: “Your Doctor Retired — Now What? ” in CoveyClub, featuring Center Core Faculty Siobán D. Harlow, PhD
“Many women entering their 40s have a pretty heavy symptom burden. Not just menopausal symptoms, but a range of physical and mental health symptoms that really deserve attention and attending to in the 40s and 50s in order to optimize healthy aging.”
“It’s a time that women have to advocate very strongly for themselves so that their symptoms are not ignored. What’s important is that you feel that your doctor is listening to you and addressing your concerns — not just doing a checklist.”
Read more at CoveyClub
Posted: March 25 2024
IN THE NEWS: “Yes, VMS Affects Races Differently, But More Research Still Needs to Be Done” in Newswires, featuring Center Core Faculty Siobán D. Harlow, PhD
“It is clear that discrimination and structural racism play an important role in health broadly but getting the full story is difficult. It’s putting each of the little pieces together and understanding the overall picture — how do we integrate and understand the difference in the experience of the menopausal transition as a whole?”
Read more at SheKnows
Posted: October 06 2023
IN THE NEWS: “Researchers Devise Scoring System to Forecast Future Health Risks for Women Ages 55-65” in Newswires, featuring SWAN Study research
Research yielding a prototype tool for predicting risk for significant decline in future health for women ages 55-65 developed by the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) has been published in the British medical journal BMJ Open. The prototype is based on a scoring system proven to be the first known method to predict health and physical function up to a decade in advance for women in the midlife when problems tend to accelerate, said lead author of the study Daniel H. Solomon, MD, MPH, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School.
Read more at Newswires
Posted: October 05 2023
ON THE RADIO: Center affiliate Alexis N. Reeves, PhD, MPH discusses menopause, research and the differing experiences of Black and Hispanic women
“We all wanted to understand ‘What is the impact of systematically leaving these women out? What is the impact on the results within the study? What are we missing within the study for understanding Black and Hispanic women’s health through the menopausal transition?’”
Read more at Stateside (interview with Dr. Reeves begins at 13:00)
Posted: August 22 2023
FEATURED PUBLICATION: “Phthalates and Incident Diabetes in Midlife Women: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN)” with lead author and former Center Doctoral Student Mia Q. Peng, PhD, MPH
Featured Publication of the Week for the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (August 2023), with lead author and former Center Doctoral Student Mia Q. Peng, PhD, MPH; additional authors include Center co-director Carrie A. Karvonen-Gutierrez, PhD, MPH, Center Core Faculty member Sung Kyun Park, ScD, MPH and Center Affiliate Faculty William H. Herman, MD, MPH.
Read more at Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
Posted: August 09 2023
IN THE NEWS: Findings from SWAN Multi-Pollutant Study featured in “‘Forever chemicals’ up type 2 diabetes risk in midlife White women” with lead author and former Center Doctoral Student Mia Q. Peng
“Overall, our study has added some evidence to support the potential diabetogenic effects of phthalates, but it also highlights that much is still unknown about the metabolic effects of these chemicals. The apparent racial/ethnic differences in the associations between phthalates and incident diabetes should be investigated in future studies.”

Additional authors include Center Co-Director Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez, Center Affiliate Faculty William Herman and Center Core Faculty Sung Kyun Park.

Posted: February 16 2023
IN THE NEWS: SWAN Study featured in “How Menopause Affects Different Demographics” in Oprah Daily; with comments from SWAN Investigators Siobán D. Harlow, PhD and Sherri-Ann Burnett-Bowie, MD
“Black women were much more likely to report very frequent hot flashes—six days a week or more—than white women were,” says Siobán D. Harlow, PhD, SWAN study investigator and a professor of epidemiology and global public health in Michigan. Their symptoms also tended to be consistently severe for many years, whereas hot flashes in white women are more likely to taper off throughout perimenopause and menopause. “Black women, followed by Native American women, have the longest-lasting, most frequent, and most bothersome VMS of all the groups,” says Sherri-Ann Burnett-Bowie, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in Boston and one of the principal investigators for the SWAN study.
Read more at Oprah Daily
Posted: December 12 2022
IN THE NEWS: SWAN Study featured in “Menopause and VMS by the Numbers” in Good Housekeeping; with comments from SWAN Investigator and Center Director Siobán D. Harlow, PhD
“It’s important not to trivialize vasomotor symptoms, particularly when they’re severe and/or frequent,” says Siobán D. Harlow, PhD, a professor of epidemiology and global public health in Michigan and one of the SWAN study investigators. “Saying they’re ‘bothersome’ makes them sound less disruptive than they really are, especially if they’re interfering with one’s sleep or quality of life.”
Read more at Good Housekeeping
Posted: December 12 2022
PUBLISHED: “Midlife falls are associated with increased risk of mortality in women: Findings from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III” in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics
Authors include Center Co-Director Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez, MPH, PhD, former Center PhD student and post-doc Kelly R. Ylitalo, PhD, and Center Doctoral Student Mia Q. Peng.
“Falls are a public health concern for older adults but are also common among midlife adults. However, the consequences of falls occurring during midlife are not well understood. ”
Posted: August 5 2020
IN THE NEWS: SWAN Study featured in the Oprah magazine story “The Ultimate Guide to Dealing With Menopause ”
“They give you all this information about healthy habits in your 20s or 30s, but women that age often shrug it off,” says Siobán D. Harlow, PhD, a professor of epidemiology and global public health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Then you hit midlife, and your body stops bouncing back the way it used to.
Posted: September 17 2019
IN THE NEWS: New Research from Center for Midlife Science Core Faculty Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez, MPH, PhD and Research Area Specialist Associate Mia Q. Peng : “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Might Spell Trouble for Middle-Aged Women”
“Knowing that women with polycystic ovary syndrome are at greater risk for metabolic syndrome earlier in their life warrants more careful follow up by their health care providers,” said senior author Carrie Karvonen-Gutierrez, assistant professor of epidemiology at U-M's School of Public Health. “Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition diagnosed among women during their childbearing years, before the life stage commonly associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
Posted: January 10 2019