New Faculty & Health Affairs Publishes Paper on Coverage for Liquid Biopsy Tests

Letter from TRANSPERS Director and Founder

Dear Colleagues:

Spring is here, and TRANSPERS is blooming! We are delighted to announce that Emily Mrig, PhD, will be joining our faculty as an Assistant Professor. Emily brings skill and passion to examining unequal access to health care. We look forward to her contributions!

Liquid biopsy tests for early cancer detection were hailed as one of the “6 most mind-blowing discoveries of 2021.” Our analysis of payer coverage, published in Health Affairs, turned out to be timely and pertinent. It produced an invitation to be interviewed on their podcast, which gave me the opportunity to explain the ramifications in more detail.

Finally, we bid a fond farewell to our Deputy Director, Patricia Deverka. Pat brought a fresh perspective to our research, and we are grateful for her many insightful contributions. She will be assuming a new position as Senior Vice President, Commercial Strategy and Market Access, at Veranex, a consulting firm focused on medical devices.

Please join me in welcoming Emily to TRANSPERS and congratulating Pat on her new position!



TRANSPERS Welcomes Emily Mrig, PhD, as Their Newest Faculty Member

The UCSF Department of Clinical Pharmacy and TRANSPERS is excited to welcome their newest faculty member, Emily Mrig, PhD. Dr. Mrig joins us from the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Yale University School of Public Health, where she is finishing a Post Doc fellowship. She is an interdisciplinary scholar with diverse training and experience in public health, health policy and social science that she applies to investigating inequities in access to health care, especially in the context of precision medicine, cancer, and end-of-life care. Her research engages qualitative and mixed-methods approaches to elicit, synthesize, and amplify the experiences of patients, families, clinicians, community advocates, and other actors in healthcare settings to examine complex causal processes that produce health disparities. 

Dr. Mrig has recently been awarded several honors for her work, including the University of Colorado Outstanding PhD Award and the AAUW American Dissertation Fellowship Prize. She was also selected as a 2021 NIMHD Health Disparities Research Institute Scholar.

Payer Coverage for Multicancer Early Detection Screening Tests Published in Health Affairs

Multi-cancer early detection screening tests (MCED), also called “liquid biopsy tests,” could transform current approaches to cancer screening. The first MCED test is now available in the US, and there are numerous other tests in the development pipeline. Given their intrinsic features and the complexity of payer assessments for screening tests, MCEDs will predictably face coverage challenges. In their policy insight in Health Affairs, Patricia Deverka, MD, Michael Douglas, MS, and Kathryn Phillips, PhD, describe the potential benefits of an MCED test that could detect multiple cancers, and they illustrate how this innovation will complicate payer decision-making.

Health Affairs Podcast on Multicancer Early Detection Screening Tests

Kathryn Phillips, PhD, appeared as a special guest on the Health Affairs podcast, talking with editor-in-chief Alan Weil about coverage and access for multi-cancer early detection screening tests. “Will patients understand the limitations and the drawbacks?”


TRANSPERS Director Advises California Legislative Analysts and Singapore Government

Kathryn A. Phillips, PhD, is working with California legislative staff to review two bills on insurer coverage in the Medicaid population, one for biomarker testing and one for pharmacogenomics testing.


Dr. Phillips has also been appointed to the Health Economist Expert Network for Precision Health Research in Singapore and will be traveling there in May for a meeting with government officials to discuss Singapore's plans to implement precision medicine.


Assessments of the Value of New Interventions Should Include Health Equity Impact

Jeroen Jansen, PhD, and Kathryn Phillips, PhD, in collaboration with Thomas Trikalinos, MD, PhD, of Brown University, published a current opinion in Pharmacoeconomics calling for the inclusion of health equity impact in the assessment of value for new interventions.



Analyzing Precision Medicine Utilization with Real-World Data: A Scoping Review

Michael Douglas, MS, and UCSF School of Medicine student Anika Kumar published a scoping review on the utilization of Precision Medicine (PM) in the Journal of Personalized Medicine, concluding there is a need for a centralized database of PM utilization.

Upcoming Presentations

Hadley Stevens Smith, PhD; Cheng Chen, PhD; Kathryn Phillips, PhD; along with Emily Largent,PhD, RN: “Equity and Justice in Dementia Care: Perspectives on Ethical, Health, and Policy Implications of Tests and Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.” The 5th ELSI Congress, May 31 – June 3, 2022


Cheng Chen, PhD: “Preferences for Pharmacogenomic Testing in Polypharmacy Patients: A Discrete Choice Experiment.” The 5th ELSI Congress, May 31 – June 3, 2022

News from TRANSPERS Contributors

“Discoveries in Health Policy” Blog Reaches Key Milestones

TRANSPERS contributor Bruce Quinn’s Blog has reached 1 million views and 1800 articles. Discoveries in Health Policy started in 2014, is a valuable resource to researchers in health policy. Congratulations to Bruce!!!

An Integrated Approach to Rare Disease Research Could Further Accelerate Scientific Advances

TRANSPERS Contributor Hadley Stevens Smith, PhD, and others published a commentary in Nature Genetics calling for a more integrated approach to improve efficiency, equity and sustainability in rare disease research in the United States. The paper recommends creating a coordinated rate disease registry supporting the identification of similarities and differences in etiology, epidemiology, and outcomes across diseases.

Are Exome and Genome Sequencing Cost-Effective in Children With Rare and Undiagnosed Conditions?

A cost-effectiveness analysis published in Genetics in Medicine led by TRANSPERS Tara Lavelle, PhD, concludes that first-line genome sequencing (GS) may be the most cost-effective strategy for diagnosing infants with suspected genetic conditions. For all children, GS may be cost-effective under certain assumptions. Exome Sequencing is nearly as efficient as GS and hence is a viable option when GS is unavailable.

Upcoming Summer Institute in Population Health Sciences at Duke

Duke University’s Department of Population Health Sciences is again hosting the Summer Institute for trainees, students, early- to mid-career researchers, and healthcare professionals. Attendees can choose from 12 affordable, virtual workshops that offer a foundation in the emerging field of population health sciences and teach a variety of research methods and real-world implementation skills. They are offering special student pricing and 25% off when people sign up for at least four workshops. Learn More and Register.