My research is devoted to developing new mixed-methodological combining techniques from communication, information science, and science studies so as to better understand the intersections of science, society, and public policy. A few current projects include:
Stakeholder Participation in Pharmaceuticals Policy
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is facing a crisis of trust. Growing concerns over close relationships between regulators and industry, the number and results of pharmaceuticals-funded clinical trials, and the politicization of the regulatory process have resulted in a failure of both public and clinician confidence in the FDA’s processes of pharmaceuticals regulation. Despite these concerns, however, there has been very little research conducted to explore the contexts and practices of the primary interface between the FDA and pharmaceuticals companies: Drugs Advisory Committees (DACs). Furthermore, there is little to no data documenting how the aforementioned concerns, which have provoked this current crisis of trust, impact DAC debate and decision making. My current research in this area involves two related projects. The first is an assessment of what forms of evidence and modes of argument are most likely to result in FDA approval of a new drug. The second is investigating the role of patient representatives in DAC decision-making.
Environmental Regulation at the FDA
Recent research indicates that endocrine-disruptive pharmaceuticals and and pharmaceuticals byproducts have serious adverse effects on our natural environment and waterways. Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for environmental oversight of prescription drugs products, it is essential that its evaluative approach effectively balances human health needs with environmental consequences. PESC researchers are currently conducting an assessment of FDA environmental regulatory procedures in order to identify possible sites of intervention. Funding provided by the Argosy Foundation.
Cancer and Obesity: A Wicked Problem
A “wicked problem” is an issue principally marked by complexity. These problems are vast in scale both geographically, temporally, economically, and socially. Emerging research suggests that cancer-obesity co-morbidity and risk co-incidence constitute a wicked problem. The relationships between cancer and obesity are highly complex and range from physiological concerns such as obesity-driven mutagenesis to socio-economic issues ranging form environmental injustice to food desert. Subsequently, successfully address cancer and obesity will require the combined efforts of oncologist, endocrinologists, primary care providers, community health educators, advocacy organizations, and elected representatives. In order to assist in this process, I have recently led an interdisciplinary team in investigating the applicability of method developed at Los Alamos National Laboratories to catalyze interdisciplinary research for this problem. Our research used this method–Systems Ethnography and Qualitative Modeling or SEQM–to map the the various discipline and stakeholders who traverse cancer and obesity domains. Our ongoing aim capitalize on this descriptive mapping to support transdisciplinary efforts to address cancer and obesity.