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Pamela L. Sankar, PhD

  • Associate Professor of Bioethics
  • Office: 215.898.7136
  • Fax: 215.573.3036
  • Email: sankarp@upenn.edu


Pamela Sankar, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Sankar has a BA from the University of Michigan in History of Ideas. She began her graduate training in Anthropology and Communications at Boston University and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. She pursued post-doctoral training in health services research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine with a fellowship awarded by the Veteran's Administration. Dr. Sankar's research interests have included medical privacy and confidentiality, ethical and cultural implications of genetic research, research ethics, and genetics and race. Dr. Sankar's research and scholarship have been funded by the Ayer Foundation, the Greenwall Foundation, the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, and National Institutes of Health.

Selected Publications

Sankar, Pamela L., and Mildred K. Cho. "Engineering values into genetic engineering: A proposed analytic framework for scientific social responsibility." The American Journal of Bioethics 15.12 (2015): 18-24.

Darling, KW, Boyce, AM, Cho, MK, Sankar, PL. “‘What Is the FDA Going to Think?’: Negotiating Values through Reflective and Strategic Category Work in Microbiome Science.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 40(1): 71-95 2015.

Sankar, P, Cho, M, Monahan, K, Nowak, K.  “Reporting race and ethnicity in genetics research: Do journal recommendations or resources matter?”  Journal of Science and Engineering Ethics 19 Nov 2014 [Epub ahead of print].

Sankar, P. “Genomics Research and Race: Refining Claims about Essentialism.” In Anthropology of Race: Genes, Biology, and Culture, ed. John Hartigan, Santa Fe, NM, SAR Press, 2013, pp. 107-124.

The Human Microbiome Project Consortium. “A framework for human microbiome research.” Nature 486: 215-221, 2012.

Sankar, P. “Forensic DNA Phenotyping: Reinforcing Race in Law Enforcement” In What’s the Use of Race? Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference, eds. Ian Whitmarsh and David S. Jones, Cambridge, MA, The MIT Press, 2010.

Sankar, P.  “Moving Beyond the Two Race Mantra”.  In Revisiting Race and Ethnicity in a Genomic Age, eds. Sandra Soo-Jin Lee and Barbara Koenig. New Brunswick, NJ; Rutgers University Press, 2008, pp. 271-284.

Sankar, P., Cho, M.K., Mountain, J. Race and ethnicity in genetic research. AJMG, Part A.  9(143A): 961-970, 2007.

Sankar, P, Cho, M, Wolpe, PR, Schairer, C. “What’s in a cause? Exploring the relationship between genetic etiology and felt stigma.” Genetics in Medicine 8(1):33-42, 2006.

Sankar, P, Cho, MK, Condit, CM, Hunt, LM, Koenig, B, Marshall, P, Lee, SS, Spicer, P. “Genetic Research and Health Disparities.” JAMA 297(24):2985-9, June 23/30, 2004.

Sankar, P. “Communication and miscommunication in informed consent to research.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly 18(4):429-46, December 2004.

Cho, M, Sankar, P. “Forensic genetics and ethical, legal and social implications beyond the clinic.” Nature Genetics 36(11 Suppl):S8-12, November 2004.

Sankar, P, Cho, M. “Towards a new vocabulary for human genetic variation.” Science 298(5597):1337-8, November 15 2002.


University of Pennsylvania, PhD, Communications

University of Pennsylvania, MA, Communications

Boston University, MA, Anthropology

University of Michigan, BA, History of Ideas