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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center

 
Digna R.   Velez Edwards

Digna R. Velez Edwards, Ph.D., MS

Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Contact Information:

2525 West End Avenue
Suite 600, 6th floor
Nashville, TN 37209
615-322-1288

Profile

Dr. Digna R. Velez Edwards is a genetic epidemiologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Velez Edwards received her Ph.D. in Human Genetics (2008) and Masters in Applied Statistics at Vanderbilt University (2007) with subsequent postdoctoral training in human genetics at the University of Miami (2008-2009).
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Dr. Digna R. Velez Edwards is a genetic epidemiologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Velez Edwards received her Ph.D. in Human Genetics (2008) and Masters in Applied Statistics at Vanderbilt University (2007) with subsequent postdoctoral training in human genetics at the University of Miami (2008-2009). She has established a research program focused on genetic and environment risk factors associated with women's health and reproductive outcomes, including gynecologic cancers. Since the start of her faculty appointment Dr. Velez Edwards has developed and coordinated a repository of biospecimens from participants in the Right from the Start pregnancy cohort to be used for genetic epidemiology studies examining reproductive health complications and risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. She has several ongoing research projects utilizing this resource, as well as large clinical databases that link clinical information to DNA (BioVU). These studies focus on understanding the racial and/or ethnic disparities in genetic risk for several complex diseases including preterm birth, miscarriage, uterine fibroids, and pelvic organ prolapse. She has a funded R01 evaluating the genetic determinants of uterine fibroids in racially diverse populations and grant to identify novel rare variants associated with fibroids using an extreme phenotype design. She is also involved in the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC) functioning as the site PI for the use of BioVU in the consortium. She also has active projects on endometrial cancer and endometriosis.

Education
 
  • BS - Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Spanish Vanderbilt University
  • MS - Applied Statistics Vanderbilt University
  • PhD - Human Genetics Vanderbilt University
 
Research Description

My research is focused on understanding and identifying genetic risk factors for complex diseases with a specific focus on genetic factors related to women’s health and reproductive outcomes. My labs current research projects focus on examining genetic risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes in a large epidemiologic pregnancy cohort. For these studies I am working with Right from the Start: A Study of Early Pregnancy Health (RFTS). RFTS is an ongoing, community-based prospective cohort study with the goal of advancing knowledge about maternal and fetal health from conception to birth. Since 1999, RFTS has enrolled more than 6,000 women, 20% prior to conception, in order to study determinants of fecundability, miscarriage, spontaneous preterm birth, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes. Data have been carefully collected with regard to quality control and the data set has reached sufficient size to have good power to investigate additional important etiologic and clinically relevant questions. We are collecting DNA samples from past and current RFTS participants and their children to ask new questions regarding the etiology of pregnancy and its adverse outcomes. Current studies focus on testing for interactions between genes and maternal exposures during pregnancy. These studies include examining maternal nonsteroidal-anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) exposure during preconception and early pregnancy on risk for spontaneous abortion as well as studies examining environmental exposures, including bleeding and spotting during pregnancy, on risk for spontaneous preterm birth.

Publications