Vanessa Merker, BS
Vanessa Merker is a graduate student in the Health Services Research PhD program at the Boston University School of Public Health. She also works as a senior clinical research coordinator in the Family Center for Neurofibromatosis at Massachusetts General Hospital. She graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience in 2010.
Vanessa's main research interests are coordination of care, multidisciplinary care delivery, and access to specialty care for patients with rare diseases (particularly cancer predisposition syndromes and neurogenetic conditions). She also does work on patient-reported outcomes and quality of life interventions. Methodologically, Vanessa is especially interested in mixed-methods and patient-centered approaches.
As a PCORT fellow, Vanessa will investigate diagnostic delay in schwannomatosis, a rare tumor suppressor syndrome. With this work, she hopes to identify areas of improvement to shorten diagnostic delay; modify current models of cancer delay to better capture the non-linear path of many cancer-predisposition/tumor suppressor syndromes; and examine how diagnostic delay impacts patients' perceptions of care and preferences for post-diagnosis care.