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Vence Bonham, Jr., J.D.

vence_bonhamVence Bonham, Jr., J.D.
Senior Advisor to the Director on
Societal Implications of Genomics
National Human Genome Research Institute
Bethesda, Maryland

Vence Bonham is a health care services and policy researcher whose work is at the intersection of public policy, health care, and genetics. His research, conducted within the Public Health Genomics Section, focuses primarily on the social influence of new genomic knowledge, particularly in communities of color. Mr. Bonham is interested in how genomic discoveries influence social identity, how genomics might influence the use of the constructs of race and ethnicity in biomedical research, and the role of genetics and genomics in understanding racial and ethnic health disparities.

Mr. Bonham is leading the Physicians’ Understanding of Human Genetic Variation Study, a large, multi-year research project whose goal is to investigate factors that influence health care providers’ decisions about the provision of genetic services. As an initial step in this research, he and his colleagues conducted a large, Internet-based survey of family physicians to explore differences in treatment recommendations for genetic testing for white and black women seeking reproductive counseling. Drawing from that experience, Mr. Bonham and his team have used a mixed-methods research approach, beginning with a series of structured interviews and focus groups aimed at further-exploring health professionals’ knowledge of human genetic variation, their beliefs about genetic differences based upon race and ethnicity, and the roles that race and ethnicity may play in clinical practice. Based on this research, Mr. Bonham is developing an assessment tool, the Health Professionals’ Genetic Education Needs Exploration (HP GENE ) Survey, which can be used in studies related to genetics and health disparities. Mr. Bonham and his colleagues are currently undertaking a large national survey of primary care physicians using the HP GENE Survey.

Mr. Bonham heads the Education and Community Involvement Branch (ECIB). As chief of ECIB, Mr. Bonham is responsible for structuring how NHGRI reaches out to and engages various communities, including those who are underserved in biomedical research participation.