Get to know Emily Largent, JD, PhD, RN, the newest affiliated faculty member at the Center for Health Incentives & Behavioral Economics (CHIBE).
Dr. Largent is the Emanuel and Robert Hart Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy. She holds a secondary appointment at Penn Law, and she is also a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.
What projects are you working on right now?
Much of my work is focused on understanding how scientific advances in our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease are changing the lived experiences of patients and their families.
How does the field of behavioral economics and health incentives fit into your work?
I first started working on the ethics of paying people to participate in research over a decade ago and have never stopped. I’ve found that Institutional Review Boards are generally quite suspicious of payments to research participants and, as a result, adopt very conservative approaches to offers of payment. I would argue that this conservatism reflects some fundamental misconceptions about ethics and human subjects protections, and it needlessly hampers recruitment and retention efforts. I keep trying to address these misconceptions in my work.
You earned your PhD in Health Policy with a concentration in ethics, but you also have law and nursing degrees. How do your JD and RN degrees or experiences help inform your work today?
Ethical and regulatory issues go hand-in-hand in human subjects research; therefore, it helps to study challenges that arise in research from both legal and ethical vantage points. While it’s been a long time since I worked as a nurse, I remain motivated to advance research to benefit patient care and try to always be mindful of whether my suggestions are practical for and acceptable to people on the frontlines of research and care.