Research Topics

Ethics in Public Health and Genetics, Community-academic partnerships, Health Disparities

Research Interests

I am an interdisciplinary researcher, bridging science and ethics, with a focus on social and ethical implications for marginalized communities. I used mixed methods approaches, with particular expertise in qualitative research methods. I completed my dissertation at the University of Washington School of Public Health in June 2017. During this study, I developed a framework for researcher trustworthiness in community-academic research partnerships, and catalogued institutional barriers to meeting community’s expectations for trustworthiness– with special attention to implications for genomic research. My other projects have focused on cross-cultural communication about genetic research with Alaska Native community partners, implications of federal data sharing policies on stakeholders including American Indian/Alaska Native communities, ethical issues regarding implementation of genomic medicine in a range of healthcare settings, and exploring the ethics of using race in determinations about testing for high risk genetic variants for end-stage renal disease.

I have published in peer-reviewed journals focusing on public health, medicine, and moving science to practice—including the American Journal of Public Health, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Genetics in Medicine, and Science Translational Medicine.

My next steps include an exploration of scaling up the concept of researcher trustworthiness, to applications in the context of large national studies, such as the Precision Medicine Initiative and All of Us cohort (USA).

As a post-doctoral fellow at UBC, I have the honor of working for Dr. Wendy Roth, on her study examining the social impact of genetic ancestry testing on individuals’ perceptions of race and identity.

Peer Reviewed Publications

West, Kathleen McGlone, Erika Blacksher, Wylie Burke. (2017) “Genomics, health disparities, and missed opportunities for the nation’s research agenda.” JAMA- The Journal of the American Medical Association. 317(18):1831-1832. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.3096.

West, Kathleen McGlone, Wylie Burke, Diane M Korngiebel. “Identifying “ownership” through role descriptions to support implementing universal colorectal cancer tumor screening for Lynch Syndrome.” Genetics In Medicine. Published online ahead of print: 4 May 2017; doi:10.1038/gim.2017.39.

Korngiebel, Diane M, Kathleen McGlone West, Wylie Burke. “Clinician-stakeholders’ perspectives on using patient portals to return Lynch Syndrome screening results” (in press, Journal of Genetic Counseling.)

Bowen, Deborah, Travis Hyams, Melody Goodman, Kathleen West, Julie Harris-Wai, and Joon-Ho Yu. “Systematic review of quantitative measures of stakeholder engagement” (in press, Clinical and Translational Science)

James, Rose, Kathleen McGlone West, Teresa Madrid. (2013) “Launching Native Health Leaders: Reducing Mistrust of Research Through Student Peer Mentorship.” American Journal of Public Health.103(12): 2215-9. PMC, NIHMSID 554147.

Walker, Lorelei, Helene Starks, Kathleen M. West, Stephanie M. Fullerton. (2011) “dbGaP Data Access Requests: A Call for Greater Transparency” Science Translational Medicine, 3(113). doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3002788

West, Kathleen M., Scarlett E. Hopkins, Kim J. Hopper, Gerald V. Mohatt, Bert B. Boyer. (2011) “Found in translation: decoding local understandings of genetics and heredity in a Yup’ik Eskimo community” Public Understanding of Science, March 14 DOI: 10.1177/0963662510397224.

Boyer, Bert B., Gerald V. Mohatt, Renee L. Pasker, and Elaine M. Drew, and Kathleen K. McGlone (2007). “Sharing Results from Complex Disease Genetics Studies: A Community Based Participatory Research Approach” International Journal of Circumpolar Health 66(1):19-30.

Teaching

I teach about research ethics, and ethical issues in public health and genomics. My approach to teaching is case-based, using active learning, and drawing from best practices in inclusive pedagogy. I have also worked on structural and social barriers to diversity, equity, and inclusion at many levels within the university. More about my research, teaching and academic service can be found at www.katemwest.com.

Bio

I started my career at the intersection of science and society through my undergraduate liberal arts education at Oberlin College (USA). An opportunity in politics brought me to Fairbanks, Alaska in the summer of 2002, where I fell in love with the land and community, and to which I returned indefinitely the following year. From there, I entered the field of Public Health by working as a reproductive health specialist and health educator for Planned Parenthood of Alaska. Interfacing with the rural health care system and serving patients dealing with a range of health needs, led me back to academia, with an interest in individuals’ experiences with many aspects of health, and how biology and environment interact to influence those experiences. Still committed to Alaska, I sought faculty mentorship at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, in Biology (genetics) and Medical Anthropology. I conducted my qualitative Master’s thesis project in service to the Center for Alaska Native Health Research’s community-based participatory research efforts to improve communication about genetics with the Yup’ik communities partnering in their studies.

Upon graduation, my husband and I moved to Portland, OR, where I worked on a variety of community projects, and eventually became a research consultant for two Centers of Excellence in ELSI [Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genomics] Research: the Interdisciplinary Center for Epigenetics, Science and Society (at Oregon Health & Science University) and the Center for Genomics and Healthcare Equality (CGHE, in the University of Washington Department of Bioethics & Humanities). We moved to Seattle as I started in a permanent research position with CGHE, which continued through the first few years of my PhD program. This center afforded me opportunities to gain a deeper understanding of health inequities and where genomic research/advances do and do not contribute to the reduction of these inequities, to develop my qualitative research and teaching skills, and to learn about and support students in their educational journeys through co-organizing five annual 2-day Native Careers Workshops. My dissertation topic on researcher trustworthiness in community-academic research partnerships flowed from my work in CGHE.

My next steps include developing coursework in research ethics and community-based participatory research for Bastyr University and the University of Washington, and expanding on my dissertation research, to explore researcher trustworthiness outside of the personal relationship setting, scaling up to the institutional level.

I love being outdoors, biking, hiking, camping, skate skiing with my husband and 3 year-old son, as well as dancing, gardening and making music.

Education

  • A., Oberlin College, 2003
  • S., University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2009
  • D., University of Washington, 2017

Other Affiliations

  • Research Scientist, University of Washington Departments of Bioethics & Humanities, and Biomedical Informatics & Medical Education (USA)

Adjunct Instructor, Bastyr University, Maternal-Child Health Systems Master’s program (USA