Alexandra E. Shields, PhD

Alexandra E. Shields, PhD

Director, Harvard/MGH Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations, and Health Disparities
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Associate in Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital
Alexandra  E.  Shields, PhD

Dr. Shields is Director of the Harvard/MGH Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations, and Health Disparities; Associate Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School; Associate in Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital; Associate Faculty in Molecular and Population Genetics at the Broad Institute; and 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 an increased risk of disease, and how religion, spirituality, or other sources of resiliency might buffer against the adverse effects of stress. Her work addresses the challenges of clinical integration of new genomic medicine and technologies into clinical practice, with a particular focus on the impact of these changes on minority and underserved populations. She has conducted several national surveys addressing the preparedness of primary care physicians to incorporate genomic medicine into practice more generally, access to estarblished genetic tests at safety net provider sites, and consumers' willingness to undergo genetic testing. Dr. Shields also studies important ethical aspects of genomics research design, including the use of race constructs in genomics research and the inclusion of environmental measures most important to understanding health disparities in gene-environment interaction studies. 

Dr. Shields has authored over 65 peer-reviewed publications; founded and directs the Consortium on Psychosocial Stress, Spirituality, and Health; is an Executive Committee member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center’s Reduction of Cancer Risk and Disparities Program; and serves on advisory boards of several NIH and university-based research initiatives addressing genomics and health disparities. She holds a PhD in Health Policy from Brandeis University, where she was a Pew Health Policy Scholar, as well as a BA (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and MA (with distinction) in Systematic Theology from Boston College.

Contact Information

Harvard/MGH Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations, and Health Disparities
Mongan Institute for Health Policy
Massachusetts General Hospital
50 Staniford St, Suite 802
Boston, MA 02114
p: 617-724-1048