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Dr. Roberts’ Lab

Dr. Roberts’ research focuses on evaluating and improving the implementation of genomic medicine. In particular, she is interested in conducting research to understand how precision medicine technologies can be implemented to improve access to, and reduce disparities in, high quality care and prevention. To date, her research has largely focused on the implementation of genomic medicine, disparities in access to genomic medicine, risk communication, and the impact of policies on implementation of research, clinical and public health practices.

Current Research Projects

The Roberts lab is engaged in a number of research projects. Current studies include the following research:

  • Megan Roberts, KL2 Scholar. “Overcoming barriers to the uptake of cascade screening for Lynch Syndrome.” Gene Orringer Junior Faculty Career Development Program (TRACS KL2); 08/2018-08/2021 This project aims to assess needs of multiple stakeholders for cascade screening as well as develop and test the feasibility a multilevel intervention to address these needs using intervention mapping.
  • Megan Roberts, Principal Investigator. “Linking medical record and claims data to better understand cancer outcomes within the UNC health care system.” UNC Lineberger Developmental Grant; 11/2019-5/2021; Funding $50,000 This projects will link data from the Cancer Information & Population Health Resource and Carolina Data Warehouse, as well as test the feasibility of multiple techniques for abstracting and linking unstructured, genomic data from the electronic health record. The complementary strengths of the linked data sets will be assessed.
  • Devon Check, Principal Investigator. Megan Roberts, Site PI. “Understanding chronic pain and long-term opioid use among cancer survivors” The Duke Endowment; 9/1/2019-2/28/21; Funding $143,000 This project uses data from the Cancer Information & Population Health Resource to assess long-term opioid use among cancer survivors in North Carolina.

Recent Publications

1: Allen CG, Fohner AE, Landry L, Paul JL, Smith SG, Turbitt E, Roberts MC [senior author]. Perspectives from Early Career Investigators Who Are “Staying in the Game” of
Precision Public Health Research. Am J Public Health. 2019 Sep;109(9):1186-1187. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2019.305199. PubMed PMID: 31390241.


2: Allen CG, Fohner AE, Landry L, Paul J, Smith SG, Turbitt E, Roberts MC [senior author]. Early career investigators and precision public health. Lancet. 2019 Aug 3;394(10196):382-383. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30498-2. PubMed PMID: 31379330.


3: Roberts MC, Khoury MJ, Mensah GA. Perspective: The Clinical Use of Polygenic Risk Scores: Race, Ethnicity, and Health Disparities. Ethn Dis. 2019 Jul 18;29(3):513-516. doi: 10.18865/ed.29.3.513. eCollection 2019 Summer. PubMed PMID: 31367172; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6645721.


4: Mensah GA, Jaquish C, Srinivas P, Papanicolaou GJ, Wei GS, Redmond N, Roberts MC, Nelson C, Aviles-Santa L, Puggal M, Green Parker MC, Minear MA, Barfield W, Fenton KN, Boyce CA, Engelgau MM, Khoury MJ. Emerging Concepts in Precision Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases in Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations. Circ Res. 2019 Jun 21;125(1):7-13. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.119.314970. Epub 2019 Jun 20. PubMed PMID: 31219738; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6590684.


5: Roberts MC, Kurian AW, Petkov VI. Uptake of the 21-Gene Assay Among Women With Node-Positive, Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2019 Jun 1;17(6):662-668. doi: 10.6004/jnccn.2018.7266. PubMed PMID: 31200352.


6: Allen CG, McBride CM, Haardörfer R, Roberts MC [senior author]. Associations between Objective Television Exposure and Cancer Perceptions in a National Sample of Adults. Cancer Control. 2019 Jan-Dec;26(1):1073274819846603. doi: 10.1177/1073274819846603. PubMed PMID: 31131620; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6537258.


7: Roberts MC, Clyne M, Kennedy AE, Chambers DA, Khoury MJ. The current state of Funded NIH grants in implementation science in genomic medicine: a portfolio Analysis. Genet Med. 2019 May;21(5):1218-1223. doi: 10.1038/gim.2017.180. Epub 2017 Oct 26. PubMed PMID: 31048814.


8: Roberts MC, Mensah GA, Khoury MJ. Leveraging Implementation Science to Address Health Disparities in Genomic Medicine: Examples from the Field. Ethn Dis. 2019 Feb 21;29(Suppl 1):187-192. doi: 10.18865/ed.29.S1.187. eCollection 2019. PubMed PMID: 30906168; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6428174.


9: Roberts MC, Turbitt E, Klein WMP. Psychosocial, attitudinal, and demographic correlates of cancer-related germline genetic testing in the 2017 Health Information National Trends Survey. J Community Genet. 2019 Oct;10(4):453-459. doi: 10.1007/s12687-018-00405-4. Epub 2019 Feb 20. PubMed PMID: 30835082; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6754484.


10: Turbitt E, Roberts MC, Taber JM, Waters EA, McNeel TS, Biesecker BB, Klein WMP. Genetic counseling, genetic testing, and risk perceptions for breast and colorectal cancer: Results from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey. Prev Med. 2019 Jun;123:12-19. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.02.027. Epub 2019 Feb 25. PubMed PMID: 30817954.

We have identified identified barriers and faciltitaros for cascade testing (family genetic testing) for Lynch syndrome (a hereditary cancer condition) across patient, provider, and administrator stakeholders. Barriers included: (1) accessibility and shortage of genetic counseling services and follow up, (2) emotional barriers impacting family communication such as stigma and dysfunction, (3) lack of awareness about LS among patients and providers, and (4) fear of a positive screening result impacting employment and eligibility for health and life insurance. Facilitators identified across all stakeholders included: (1) free testing offered by genetic testing laboratories for relatives, (2) motivation to inform relatives, and (3) connecting to online resources such as patient support groups. Findings from this study will inform an intervention to improve the number of probands who contact relatives, and the proportion of relatives who receive genetic counseling and testing for LS. (Roberts MC, Srinivasan S, Hampel H, Patel A, Rahm AK, Reuland DS, Leeman J. 23rd Annual Meeting of the Collaborative Group of the Americas on Inherited Gatstrointestinal Cancer. Salt Lake City, UT, November 5, 2019. [Silver award]; manuscript under review)

Megan Roberts

(919) 843-4071

Megan Roberts, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy and the Director of Implementation Science in Precision Health and Society at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Her research focuses on evaluating and improving the implementation of genomic medicine. In particular, she is interested in implementation research aimed at improving quality of care and reducing racial disparities in cancer prevention and treatment.

Brianna Halliburton

Emily Shen