Current Research Projects

The Health Communication Interaction Design Lab is a very active research lab. Represented below are examples of a few projects we are currently leading. Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about what we do, or if you would like to collaborate.

Inviting African Americans to Participate in Pharmacogenomics Studies

Pharmacogenomics (PGX) explores how individual genetic variations influence drug response, and has considerable potential to ensure treatment efficacy and avoid toxicity. Most PGX studies of drug efficacy/toxicity are conducted in individuals of European ancestry. However, African Americans have greater genetic variation compared with European populations. Thus, results from PGX studies in European ancestry may not hold in African Americans. Under-representation of African American populations harms the ability to translate pharmacogenomics findings into clinical care, and will ultimately result in increased health disparities. Partnering with the ACCOuNT study at Northwestern, Inviting African Americans to Participate in PGX Studies, is a study funded by the Delaney Family Foundation to develop and test recruitment messages to promote African American participation in PGX studies. 

Pharmacy Counter

Communicate and Learn about your Variant of Uncertain Significance

Variants of uncertain significance (VUS) are results in genetic testing that indicate a change in a gene was found, yet it is unknown if the change impacts the function of the gene. These results are difficult for providers to explain and for patients to understand. Communicate and Learn about your Variant of Uncertain Significance, or CLEAR-VUS for short, is an NIH-funded project to develop an educational booklet for women who receive variant of uncertain significance results from genetic testing for hereditary breast cancer. 


A Narrative Intervention for Early Identification of Developmental Delays

A Narrative Intervention for Early Identification of Developmental Delays is a research collaboration between the Health Communication Interaction Design Lab and the Early Intervention Research Group led by Dr. Megan Roberts in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. This study is supported by a grant from the Delaney Foundation. 


We are working with parents to learn about their experience identifying and receiving services for developmental delays in their children. The ultimate goal of this study is to develop a video that can be used in pediatrician's offices to help parents recognize developmental delays in their children and give them guidance to discuss their concerns with their child's pediatrician.

Experience with Oncofertility

Treatment for cancer can impact a patients's fertility. Due to scientific advances - especially those at Northwestern, standard options for fertility preservation are available. National guidelines from leading organizations such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network direct providers to discuss fertility risks and preservation options prior to beginning gonadotoxic therapy. 

Some academic medical institutions, such as Northwestern, have implemented multidisciplinary referral networks to provide consistent referrals for cancer survivors to specialized oncofertility counseling provided by a patient navigator. However, patient outcomes from such specialized discussions have yet to be assessed. The Experience with Oncofertility study explores patient experience with and outcomes from discussions about fertility preservation when faced with a cancer diagnosis.