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Headshot of Allison Werner-Lin

Allison Werner-Lin, PhD, AM, EdM, LCSW

  • Associate Professor

  • Adjunct Investigator, National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Epidemiology And Genetics

  • Director, Social Work in Health Care Specialization

  • Chair, Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice

3701 Locust Walk, Caster Building, Room C16
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214

Research Interests

Psychosocial oncology

Genetics and genomics

Assisted reproductive technology

Bioethics

Emerging adulthood

Medical family therapy

Qualitative health research

Allison Werner-Lin is Assistant Professor at the School of Social Policy and Practice. Her research addresses the intersection of genomic discovery and family life. Dr. Werner-Lin seeks to broaden social work’s guiding ‘person-in-environment’ framework to include genetic variation as a core feature of assessment, one in constant interaction with developmental, sociocultural, and environmental contexts. Presently, Dr. Werner-Lin’s work addressed the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of emerging genomic technologies in reproductive, pediatric, adolescent, and young adult populations. This work is funded through the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research program and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Her work is among the first to explore the psychosocial challenges unique to women and men of reproductive age who carry a genetic mutation (BRCA1/2), which exposes carriers to elevated risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. She holds appointments with the Clinical Genetics Branch of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute where she oversees psychosocial research addressing hereditary tumor predisposition syndromes, including Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. She is a member of the Scientific Committee governing the International Meeting on Psychosocial Aspects of Hereditary Cancer.

Dr. Werner-Lin partners with agencies that seeks to identify how best the rapidly evolving knowledge base of genomics may be translated into community education and outreach programs for adolescents and young adults, given the social, cognitive, and cultural contexts within which they acquire health knowledge and behaviors. She consults with the Personal Genetics Education Project (pgED.org) at Harvard Medical School to enhance and evaluate high school science curricula towards increased adolescent genomic literacy.

Dr. Werner-Lin received her PhD from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She holds a master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Chicago, a master’s degree in human development and psychology from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts in family studies and psychology from Wellesley College. She is a Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research and a Distinguished Scholar and Fellow of the National Academies of Practice in Social Work. She has presented her research at national and international conferences. She advises learners across health and mental health disciplines, teaches qualitative health research methods for the Center for Public Health Initiatives, and was recently honored by the Council on Social Work Education for outstanding mentorship. Dr. Werner-Lin has held training grants to build interdisciplinary training programs in oncology, genome-based health literacy, and health care social work practice. Dr. Werner-Lin has practiced in community-based organizations providing individual, family, and group counseling and psychotherapy to families affected by cancer, and she maintains a small private practice for parentally bereaved children and teens. She conducts workshops on direct practice with parentally bereaved children and provides supervision to professional groups.

Selected Publications

Young, J., Werner-Lin, A., Mueller, R., Hoskins, L., Epstein, N. & Greene, M. (2017). Following BRCA1/2 mutation-positive women during their reproductive years: A longitudinal case series. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07347332.2017.1292574

Rubel, M., Werner-Lin, A., Barg, F., Kellom, K. & Bernhardt, B. (2017). Expert knowledge influences decision-making for couples receiving positive prenatal chromosomal microarray testing results. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry. DOI 1007/s11013-017-9521-3

Werner-Lin, A., Walser, S., Barg, F. & Bernhardt, B. (2016). “They can’t find anything wrong with him, yet”: Mothers’ experiences of parenting an infant with a prenatally diagnosed copy number variant (CNV).  American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A. 9999A:1–8. DOI: 1002/ajmg.a.38042

Werner-Lin, A., McCoyd, J., Doyle, M. H. * & Gehlert, S. (2016). Leadership, literacy, and translational expertise in genomics: A grand challenge for social work. Health and Social Work. 41 (4): 275-280. doi: 10.1093/hsw/hlw045

Werner-Lin, A., Tomlinson, A., Miller, V. & Bernhardt, B. (2016). Adolescent engagement during assent for exome sequencing: Like, I want to know, but I don’t…American Journal of Bioethics: Empirical Bioethics. Doi: 1080/23294515.2016.1197983

Werner-Lin, A., McCoyd, J., & Bernhardt, B. (2016). Recommendations for psychosocial genetic counseling during prenatal cytogenetic microarray analysis: Addressing uncertainty with more than just information. Journal of Genetic Counseling. (epub) DOI 10.1007/s10897-016-9966-5

Werner-Lin, A., Tomlinson, A., Miller, V. & Bernhardt, B. (2016). Adolescent engagement during assent for exome sequencing: Like, I want to know, but I don’t…American Journal of Bioethics: Empirical Bioethics. Doi: 1080/23294515.2016.1197983

Werner-Lin, A., McCoyd, J., & Bernhardt, B. (2016). Recommendations for psychosocial genetic counseling during prenatal cytogenetic microarray analysis: Addressing uncertainty with more than just information. Journal of Genetic Counseling. (epub) DOI 10.1007/s10897-016-9966-5

Werner-Lin, A., Barg, F., Tomlinson, A., Kellom, K. & Bernhardt, B. (2015). Couple’s narratives of communion and isolation following abnormal prenatal microarray testing results. Qualitative Health Research, 26(14), 1975-1987.

Hoskins, L.M., Werner-Lin, A., & Greene, M.H. (2014). In their own words: Treating BRCA1/2 mutation-positive women in their emerging adult years (ePub). PLoS ONE, 9(2): e87696.

Werner-Lin, A., Hoskins, L.M., Doyle, M.H.* & Greene, M.H. (2012). “Cancer doesn’t have an age”: Genetic testing and cancer risk management in BRCA1/2 mutation-positive women aged 18-24. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness, and Medicine. 16(6), 636-

Werner-Lin, A., Rubin, L.R., Doyle, M.H., Rapp, R., Stern, R., Savin, K., Hurley, K., & Sagi, M. (2012). ‘My funky genetics’: BRCA1/2 mutation carriers’ understanding of genetic inheritance and reproductive merger in the context of new repro-genetic technologies. Families, Systems & Health, 30(2), 166-180.

Werner-Lin, A., & Biank, N.M. (2012). Holding parents so they can hold their children: Grief work with surviving spouses to support parentally bereaved children. OMEGA: Journal of Death & Dying, 66 (1) 1-16.

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