A photo of Michelle McGowan.

Member, Division of General and Community Pediatrics

Member, Ethics Center

Associate Professor, UC Department of PediatricsAssociate Professor, UC Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Biography & Affiliation


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.

Research Interests

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

Academic Affiliation

Associate Professor, UC Department of PediatricsAssociate Professor, UC Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


General and Community Pediatrics


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

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

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


Unregulated Health Research Using Mobile Devices: Ethical Considerations and Policy Recommendations. Rothstein, MA; Wilbanks, JT; Beskow, LM; Brelsford, KM; Brothers, KB; Doerr, M; Evans, BJ; Hammack-Aviran, CM; McGowan, ML; Tovino, SA. The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics. 2020; 48:196-226.

Experiences of a multidisciplinary genomic tumor board interpreting risk for underlying germline variants in tumor-only sequencing results. Fishler, KP; Breese, EH; Walters-Sen, L; McGowan, ML. JCO Precision Oncology. 2019; 3:1-8.

Harmonizing Clinical Sequencing and Interpretation for the eMERGE III Network. Zouk, H; Venner, E; Muzny, DM; Lennon, NJ; Rehm, HL; Gibbs, RA; Walker, K; Gordon, AS; Bowser, M; Harden, MV; et al. The American Journal of Human Genetics. 2019; 105:588-605.

Giving adolescents a voice: the types of genetic information adolescents choose to learn and why. Pervola, J; Myers, MF; McGowan, ML; Prows, CA. Genetics in Medicine. 2019; 21:965-971.

Systematic review of typologies used to characterize clinical ethics consultations. DeSante-Bertkau, JE; McGowan, ML; Antommaria, AH M. The Journal of Clinical Ethics. 2018; 29:291-304.

Adolescent and Parental Attitudes About Return of Genomic Research Results: Focus Group Findings Regarding Decisional Preferences. McGowan, ML; Prows, CA; DeJonckheere, M; Brinkman, WB; Vaughn, L; Myers, MF. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics. 2018; 13:371-382.

Why Does the shift from “personalized medicine” to “precision health” and “wellness genomics” matter?. Juengst, ET; McGowan, ML. AMA journal of ethics. 2018; 20:E881-E890.

"Let's pull these technologies out of the ivory tower'': The politics, ethos, and ironies of participant-driven genomic research. McGowan, ML; Choudhury, S; Juengst, ET; Lambrix, M; Jr, SR A; Fishman, JR. BioSocieties. 2017; 12:494-519.

Precisely Where Are We Going? Charting the New Terrain of Precision Prevention. Meagher, KM; McGowan, ML; Jr, SR A; Fishman, JR; Juengst, ET. Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics. 2017; 18:369-387.

Participatory Genomic Research: Ethical Issues from the Bottom Up to the Top Down. Aungst, H; Fishman, JR; McGowan, ML. Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics. 2017; 18:357-367.