Research: Prenatal genetic services have expanded at an extraordinary pace over the past 4 years with the development of fetal genome sequencing using cell-free placental DNA in maternal serum. Some commentators predict that this new technology, which allows for noninvasive determination of an increasingly wide range of maternal-fetal health conditions, will improve prenatal care, especially in lower-resource areas. However, this is called into question by research on lower uptake of existing prenatal screening and diagnostic services among ethnic minority populations, even when structural barriers to access are removed. These disparities have lead to differential outcomes among some populations, including higher rates of live births affected by a genetic condition and higher maternal-infant morbidity and mortality. We will conduct community based participatory qualitative research with women of African American and Latina ethnicity to assess their understanding of and desire to accept prenatal genetic services. Through our community partners, we will feed the results of our research back into the communities in question in order to facilitate fruitful discussions of future interventions to increase access in ethnic minority populations. Candidate: I hold a PhD in Science and Technology Studies and have trained in clinical and research ethics with two NHGRI ELSI CEERS, at Stanford and Duke Universities. My goal is to become an independently- funded researcher focusing on community based participatory research at the intersection of women's health, health disparities and genetics. To that end, my goals for this training period are as follows: 1. Improve skills in ascertaining and communicating genetics and genetic risk in the prenatal period. 2. Improve skills in community engagement and health disparities research 3. Build community partnerships that allow for long-term development and implementation of interventions to improve access to prenatal genetic care. The K award would allow me to seek answers to important questions around barriers to access to prenatal genetic care among underserved communities. It would allow me to pursue training in community engagement, genetics, and health disparities and to forge links with researchers in the field for collaborative dissemination in order to build a robust research portfolio around reducing health disparities among pregnant women from underserved populations. Mentorship and Institutional environment: I have assembled a strong internal and external mentorship and advisory team of experts in the fields of Bioethics and Obstetric Care to guide me and support my research and training. The research will be conducted at Mayo Clinic, a premier research institution with access to extensive genetic, health services, and translational research resources that will enhance my efforts to achieve my ambitious aims.
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