Ms. Christi Guerrini, student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health, has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study citizen science — the involvement of the public in scientific research.
[Photo: Ms. Christi Guerrini]
The four-year, K01 Research Scientist Development Award from the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute totals more than $600,000, and will support training and research in ethics, genomics and analysis. Guerrini will investigate whether citizen scientists involved in genomic research have legitimate claims and interests in the outcomes of studies in which they are participants.
“I’m looking to answer three key questions through this research,” says Ms. Guerrini. “First, do citizen scientists have rights related to when, where, how and to whom study results are disclosed? Second, should they receive public credit for their contributions? Third, what are their rights related to patenting, commercializing and licensing discoveries during the course of studies?”
Ms. Guerrini became interested in public health as an undergrad at the University of Virginia, where she designed her own major in bioethics. She attended Harvard Law School with plans to pursue a career in health law and policy, but switched to patent law. After spending several years working in private practice and teaching law, she returned her focus to health law and policy. She’s currently earning her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in health services organization from UTHealth School of Public Health’s Department of Management, Policy and Community Health.
She credits the School of Public Health, “for giving me new knowledge and perspective on the world of public health, and helping me take this next step to become an independent health researcher.” The NIH award is well-deserved, says advisor, Dr. Paul Rowan, an associate professor of Management, Policy and Community Health.
“Citizen science and intellectual property are significant areas of health care law, and Christi is a great candidate to examine their public health implications and opportunities,” says Dr. Rowan. “My colleagues and I are proud to see her make her mark.”
Ms. Guerrini is an instructor in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine, and an affiliated researcher for the University of Houston Law Center’s Institute for Intellectual Property and Information Law. She is the recipient of UTHealth School of Public Health’s President James T./Nancy Beamer Willerson Scholarship in Public Health and the Julius and Suzan Glickman Endowed Scholarship in Innovation.
Article contains information from a Baylor College of Medicine press release.