Research Branches

Social and Behavioral Research Branch

African-American extended family - Genetic counseling session - Caucasian family in foreground of a crowd

The Social and Behavioral Research Branch (SBRB) has the overarching and broad objective to investigate social and behavioral factors that facilitate the translation of genomic discoveries for health promotion, disease prevention, and health care improvements. This research encompasses four conceptual domains: (1) testing the effectiveness of strategies for communicating information about genetic risks; (2) developing and evaluating behavioral interventions; (3) using genomic discoveries in clinical practice; and (4) understanding the social, ethical, and policy implications of genomic research.

The specific research challenges being investigated by SBRB scientists include improving methods of communication about genetic risk to lay populations, establishing best practices in genetic counseling, investigating approaches for successfully integrating genetics into primary care settings, and studying broad issues relating to the appropriate public dissemination of genomic discoveries. SBRB investigators also are detailing the bioethical considerations for the involvement of human subjects in genomic research.


  • Genetics and Social Science
    A genetics educational program that provides social and behavioral scientists with sufficient genetics background to allow them to engage effectively in interdisciplinary research with genetics researchers. The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health, partnered with the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics to create the free, Web-based project.

Available Postdoctoral Positions

Inaugural Forum

Senior Investigators

Colleen McBride, Ph.D.
Branch Chief
Head, Public Health Genomics Section

Laura M. Koehly, Ph.D.
Head, Social Network Methods Section


Philip Shaw, Ph.D.
Social and Behavioral Research Branch
Head,Neurobehavioral Clinical Research Section

Associate Investigators

Barbara Bowles Biesecker, Ph.D.
Head, Genetic Services Research Unit
Director, JHU/NHGRI Genetic Counseling Training Program

Vence L Bonham, Jr., J.D.
Public Health Genomics Section
Chief, Education and Community Involvement Branch

Donald W. Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.
Public Health Genomics Section
Associate Director, Office of Clinical Liaison, Office of the Clinical Director

Susan J. Persky, Ph.D.
Public Health Genomics Section

Training and Career Development Resources

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Last Updated: April 27, 2012