Vence L. Bonham, Jr., J.D.
Social and Behavioral Research Branch
Senior Advisor to the NHGRI Director on Genomics and Health Disparities
Office of the Director
Education and Community Involvement Branch
B.A. Michigan State, 1978
J.D. The Ohio State University College of Law, 1982
31 Center Dr, MSC 2070
Bethesda, MD 20892-2070
Mr. 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. Results of that study indicated that physicians considered race in deciding which genetic tests to request. 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.
All of Mr. Bonham's research projects actively involve trainees. Mr. Bonham has worked closely with his trainees to expand the range of research questions addressed within his research group. He has directed a study of basic genetic scientists, examining their use of population descriptors (including race and ethnicity) in their research. Additional projects have investigated self-identified mixed race individuals' perceptions of identity, their views of genetics, and their experiences with clinical care - questions that Mr. Bonham also plans to explore in immigrant populations and individuals that are carriers for single gene conditions.
In addition to his work in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch, Mr. Bonham serves as the Senior Advisor to the NHGRI Director on Genomics and Health Disparities. Mr. Bonham is also .involved in training state and federal judges on the social implications of genomics research and new technologies. Mr. Bonham also heads the Education and Community Involvement Branch (ECIB), which leads.NHGRI's public outreach and community involvement and outreach initiatives. 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.
Last Reviewed: May 18, 2014