Faculty Mentor: David Schlundt, Ph.D.
Dissertation Description: A Multi-Faceted Approach towards Conducting Genomics Research in an American Indian Community
Pre-eclampsia (PE) is defined by the onset of high blood pressure and excess excretion of protein in urine during mid-to late stages of pregnancy. The incidence of PE has been increasing in the United States, especially among pregnant women from disadvantaged socioeconomic populations, highlighting a need in health disparities research. A key strength is that our group encompasses the only known genetic study of PE in American Indian women as we have cultivated a decade-plus-long research relationship with a tribal community in North Dakota. Furthermore, we are able to access longitudinal electronic health records through the Indian Health Service clinic which provides healthcare to much of this rural population. Therefore, my aim is to utilize our available genotype and clinical data to create and test a validated multiple logistic regression risk model for PE to examine the genetic and non-genetic determinants that contribute to PE disease risk. Finally, our group is aware that there is a dearth of genetics studies with AI research participants, partially due to historical and cultural incongruities in establishing informed consent. We have a distinct opportunity to examine the ethical complexities of informed consent in an American Indian population. In totality, we present a genetic, epidemiologic, and bioethical multifaceted approach towards investigating the impact of PE in American Indian women.