Center Director

Alexandra E. Shields, PhD

Dr. Alexandra Shields is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Senior Scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH); Director of the Harvard/MGH Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations, and Health Disparities; Associate Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; and Director of the Consortium on Psychosocial Stress, Spirituality, and Health. She is also a Presidential Scholar at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Shields’ work focuses on the intersection of genomics research and genomic medicine with the interests of minority and low-income communities. She is particularly interested in how social disadvantage “gets under the skin” to produce increased risk of disease, and how religion, spirituality, or other sources of resiliency might buffer against the adverse effects of stress. Dr. Shields has led studies on incorporating genetically-tailored smoking cessation treatment into practice, disparities in access to BRCA1/2 testingelectronic health record (EHR) adoption among Community Health Centers and minority-serving providers, and cultural preferences for genetic testing. She also led a landmark study for the Catholic Hospital Association assessing their efforts to maintain their mission to poor and uninsured patients in fiscally challenging times. Dr. Shields has expertise in qualitative research (interviews, case studies), survey research, health services research, and policy development and dissemination. She has conducted numerous focus groups and personal interviews across diverse provider and patient populations as part of the development of national surveys and has been a national leader in promoting research designs that include measures most important to understanding the lived experience of poor and minority communities. Dr. Shields holds a PhD in Health Policy from the Heller School, Brandeis University, where she was a Pew Health Policy Scholar. Dr. Shields also holds a BA, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, in Theology and Sociology, and a master’s degree, with distinction, in Systematic Theology from Boston College.


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Click here for Dr. Shields' CV

Click here for Dr. Shields’ Mongan Institute Health Policy Center page