A photo of Michelle McGowan.

Michelle L. McGowan, PhD

  • Member, Division of General and Community Pediatrics
  • Member, Ethics Center
  • Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
  • Associate Professor, UC Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies



Genetic testing and reproductive technologies are changing the landscape of healthcare. My research areas focus on the ethical, legal and social implications of genomic testing, as well as the ethical and social implications of reproductive technologies and policies.

My research assesses the ethical and social impact of the abundance of genomic and reproductive technologies available throughout the healthcare sector. I study the implications of the uneven distribution of reproductive and genetic healthcare services and inequitable access to healthcare technologies. I am interested in learning about health disparities between different communities and populations and systemic problems in precision medicine.

My team and I use a range of qualitative and normative methods to address systemic inequities in access, procurement and delivery of reproductive and genomic medicine and technologies.

My research involves:

  • Ethical and regulatory impact of mobile health technologies being utilized in biomedical research
  • Growth of genomic testing used in adolescent research studies and reproductive medicine
  • Impact of state-level abortion policies and clinic closures on accessing all-inclusive reproductive healthcare throughout the United States

Funding for my research comes from The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the University of Washington Royalty Research Fund and philanthropic foundations. Our important findings include:

  • Attitudes among patients and early users of genome testing and potential challenges patients face in understanding genomic risk reports
  • Ethical and social impact of egg donation, including the need for long-term follow-up among donors, recipients and donor offspring for psycho-social and medical monitoring
  • Production of new insights into egg donors’ viewpoints on their responsibility in third party reproduction, including the need for clinicians and professional societies to incorporate these perspectives in reproductive decision-making

My research has been published in respected journals, such as The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, The American Journal of Human Genetics, Genetics in Medicine and The Journal of Clinical Ethics.

I have more than 11 years of experience in the fields of ethics of reproduction and genetic testing, and I started working at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2016. I was selected to serve as an ethics consultant for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2016 and continue to serve in this role today.

BA: Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, 2000.

PhD: University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 2007.

Fellowship: Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, 2009.


Ethical, legal, and social implications of genetics and genomics; ethical and social implications of reproductive technologies

Research Areas

General and Community Pediatrics


A Mixed Methods Analysis of Requests for Religious Exemptions to a COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement. Antommaria, AH M; Lanphier, E; Housholder, A; McGowan, M. AJOB Empirical Bioethics. 2023; 14:15-22.

Developing video education materials for the return of genomic test results to parents and adolescents. Lynch, JA; Idleburg, MJ; Butsch Kovacic, M; Childers-Buschle, KE; Dufendach, KR; Lipstein, EA; McGowan, ML; Myers, MF; Prows, CA. PEC Innovation. 2022; 1:100051.

Ohio Abortion Regulations and Ethical Dilemmas for Obstetrician-Gynecologists. Field, MP; Gyuras, H; Bessett, D; Pensak, MJ; Norris, AH; McGowan, ML. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2022; 140:253-261.

How Ohio's proposed abortion bans would impact travel distance to access abortion care. Chakraborty, P; Murawsky, S; Smith, MH; McGowan, ML; Norris, AH; Bessett, D. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. 2022; 54:54-63.

Experiences of adolescents and their parents after receiving adolescents' genomic screening results. Lillie, N; Prows, CA; McGowan, ML; Blumling, AA; Myers, MF. Journal of Genetic Counseling. 2022; 31:608-619.

Experiences of reproductive genetic counselors with abortion regulations in Ohio. Heuerman, AC; Bessett, D; Matheny Antommaria, AH; Tolusso, LK; Smith, N; Norris, AH; McGowan, ML. Journal of Genetic Counseling. 2022; 31:641-652.

Alobar holoprosencephaly: Exploring mothers' perspectives on prenatal decision-making and prognostication. Elfarawi, H; Tolusso, L; McGowan, ML; Cortezzo, DM; Vawter-Lee, M. Prenatal Diagnosis. 2022; 42:617-627.

Neptune: an environment for the delivery of genomic medicine. Eric, V; Yi, V; Murdock, D; Kalla, SE; Wu, TJ; Sabo, A; Li, S; Meng, Q; Tian, X; Murugan, M; et al. Genetics in Medicine. 2021; 23:1838-1846.

Genomic Testing, Unexpected Consanguinity, and Adolescent Parents. McGowan, M; Brown, T; Biller, AB; deSante-Bertkau, J. Hastings Center Report. 2021; 51:8-11.

Federal, state, and institutional barriers to the expansion of medication and telemedicine abortion services in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mello, K; Smith, MH; Hill, BJ; Chakraborty, P; Rivlin, K; Bessett, D; Norris, AH; McGowan, ML. Contraception. 2021; 104:111-116.