Dr. Elizabeth Cohn Designated as New RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholar

New York City, New York—Elizabeth Cohn, R.N., DNS., an assistant professor at Columbia University’s  School of Nursing, has been named as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholar to study the ethical, legal and social issues arising from genetic and genomic research. Dr. Cohn is one of just 12 nurse educators from around the country to receive the three-year $350,000 award. It is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing.

“The rapid development of genetic-based medicine threatens to increase the inequality in the way minority populations are diagnosed and treated for disease,” says Cohn. “The ultimate goal of this Foundation-supported study is to help researchers achieve greater equity in the enrollment of minorities in genetic and genomic research.”

Cohn’s research will focus on the equitable representation of minorities in biobank enrollment. Biobanks are repositories that store biological samples for use in genetic research.   Focus groups involving members of minority communities will identify barriers and facilitators to minority participation in biobank enrollement as well as the as the types of information potential participants deem important to make informed decisions.

Dr. Cohn’s research studies the health of at-risk, vulnerable and underserved populations, approaching the issues on both the policy level and in the community.  Among the community groups in Harlem she is working with are:  the Communities of Harlem Health Revival;  the Abyssinian Baptist Church, where she is funded to address health disparities in cardiovascular disease in women of color; and , the Hip Hop Public Education Center. She is also a co-investigator on a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to foster a diverse workforce across the health professions.


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