Faculty Scholars Program

Jennifer James, PhD, MSW, MSSP

Class of 2024
  • Assistant Professor, UCSF Institute for Health and Aging
University of California, San Francisco
Scholar Project

Jennifer James is an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Health and Aging, the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Bioethics program at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. James is a qualitative researcher and Black Feminist scholar whose research lies at the intersection of race, gender and health, with a specific focus on experiences of cancer and chronic illness. She uses community engaged research and an intersectional framework to explore ethical issues related to experiences of illness, patient-provider relationships, and resistance and resilience in biomedicine. Dr. James received postdoctoral training in Bioethics at UCSF while serving as the project director for an NCI-funded R01 grant, focused on how patients understand genomic risk for breast cancer and make breast cancer screening decisions.

Her current work is focused on patient-provider relationships and shared decision-making in carceral settings. Across several research projects, her work centers the voices and experiences of people incarcerated in prisons and jails to better understand women’s health and aging behind bars. Dr. James holds a PhD in Sociology from UCSF, a Master’s of Social Work and a Master’s of Science in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Yale University.

For more information, visit: https://profiles.ucsf.edu/jennifer.james

Healthcare decision-making in California women’s prisons: historical legacies of injustice and modern regulatory constraints

Grant Cycle: 2020 - 2021

The California Eugenics Program was ended in 1979, yet sterilizations continued in California State Prisons, with at least 148 women sterilized without proper informed consent from 2006- 2010. This research examines the intersection of the historical legacy of eugenics, state regulations, and the unique burden of custodial care to examine patient-provider relationships. Do laws banning sterilizations have the paternalistic consequence of further limiting the personal autonomy of incarcerated women? Given stark racial disparities in incarceration, how does health care within prisons operate as an extension of state violence and control in the regulation of the bodies of Black and Brown women?


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