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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.

Research Projects

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

  • Zahid Amhad, Principal Investigator; Megan Roberts, Site-Principal Investigator. “Familial hypercholesterolemia in the US: evaluating a centralized cascade screening model to improve early diagnosis.” Department of Defense; 2021-present; This project aims to improve the implementation of cascade screening for FH.
  • Megan Roberts, Principal Investigator. “Transdisciplinary Conference for Future Leaders in Precision Public Health.” National Cancer Institute; 8/2021-present; This project will convene early career investigators and experts in the field of precision public health to promote capacity building in precision public health.
  • 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; This project 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; his 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. Wand H, Lambert SA, Tamburro C, Iacocca MA, O’Sullivan JW, Sillari C, Kullo IJ, Rowley R, Brockman D, Venner E, McCarthy MI, Antoniou AC, Easton DF, Hegele RA, Khera AV, Chatterjee N, Kooperberg C, Edwards K, Vlessis K, Kinnear K, Danesh JN, Parkinson H, Ramos EM, Roberts MC, Ormond KE, Khoury MJ, Janssens ACJW, Goddard KAB, Kraft P, MacArthur JAL, Inouye M, Wojcik G. Improving reporting standards for polygenic scores in risk prediction studies. Nature 591, 211–219 (2021).
  2. Nooraje RY, Kwan BM, Cohn E, AuYoung M, Roberts MC, Adsul P, Shelton RC. Advancing Health Equity through CTSA program: Opportunities for interaction between Health Equity, Dissemination & Implementation and Translational Science. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science: 2020;1-8.
  3. Srinivasan S, Hampel H, Leeman J, Patel A, Rahm AK, Reuland DS, Roberts MC. Stakeholder perspectives on overcoming barriers to cascade testing in Lynch syndrome: A qualitative study. Cancer Prevention Research. 2020 Jan 1. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-20-0141. PubMed PMID PMID: 32727822.
  4. Srinivasan S, Won NY, Dotson WD, Wright ST, Roberts MC. Barriers and facilitators for cascade testing in genetic conditions: a systematic review. European Journal of Human GeneScs. 2020 Sep 18:1-4. doi: 10.1038/s41431-020-00725-5. PubMed PMID: 32948847
  5. Allen CG, Fohner AE, Landry L, Paul JL, Smith SG, Turbie 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.
  6. Allen CG, Fohner AE, Landry L, Paul J, Smith SG, Turbie 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.
  7. Roberts MC, Khoury MJ, Mensah GA. PerspecSve: 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. eCollecSon 2019 Summer. PubMed PMID: 31367172; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6645721.
  8. Roberts MC, Kurian AW, Petkov VI. Uptake of the 21-Gene Assay Among Women With NodePositive, 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.
  9. Roberts MC, Clyne M, Kennedy AE, Chambers DA, Khoury MJ. The current state of Funded NIH grants in implementation science in genomic medicine: a pornolio Analysis. Genet Med. 2019 May;21(5):1218-1223. doi: 10.1038/gim.2017.180. Epub 2017 Oct 26. PubMed PMID: 31048814.
  10. 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. eCollecSon 2019. PubMed PMID: 30906168; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6428174.

We have identified barriers and facilitators 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 have informed the development of an intervention to improve cascade screening for Lynch syndrome. Currently, testing of this intervention and its further development is underway.

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.