Dr. Daphne Oluwaseun Martschenko (she/hers) is an Assistant Professor at the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and former co-organizer of the Race, Empire, and Education Research Collective. Her scholarship identifies novel ways to examine and enhance the ethical and socially responsible conduct, translation, and interpretation of human genetic research.

Dr. Martschenko is passionate about fostering public and community engagement with controversial scientific research. She has appeared in the New York Times and on numerous podcasts including Freakonomics Radio. Dr. Martschenko’s work is published in publicly accessible media outlets such as Scientific American and The Conversation. In 2023, she was named one of 10 Scientists to Watch by ScienceNews.

Currently, Dr. Martschenko is writing a book with her friend and colleague Sam Trejo, a quantitative social scientist interested in how social and biological factors jointly shape human development across the life-course. In it, they unpack various social, ethical, and policy issues related to the DNA revolution.

Academic Appointments

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Member, ClinGen Ancestry and Diversity Working Group (2021 - Present)
  • Board of Directors Member, Blueprint Schools Network (2021 - Present)
  • Advisory Committee Member, Enhancing diversity of clinical trials in Duchenne (2022 - Present)
  • Steering Committee Member, Wrestling with Social and Behavioral Genomics: Risk, Potential Benefit, and Ethical Responsibility (2020 - 2022)
  • Member, Population Association of America (2023 - Present)
  • Member, American Society for Bioethics and the Humanities (2020 - Present)
  • Member, American Society for Human Genetics (2021 - Present)

Professional Education

  • B.A., Stanford University, Slavic Languages and Literature (2014)
  • B.A., Stanford University, Anthropology (Medical) (2014)
  • M.Phil., University of Cambridge, Politics, Development, and Democratic Education (2016)
  • Ph.D., University of Cambridge, Education (2019)

All Publications

  • Increasing equity in science requires better ethics training: A course by trainees, for trainees. Cell genomics Patel, R. A., Ungar, R. A., Pyke, A. L., Adimoelja, A., Chakraborty, M., Cotter, D. J., Freund, M., Goddard, P., Gomez-Stafford, J., Greenwald, E., Higgs, E., Hunter, N., MacKenzie, T. M., Narain, A., Gjorgjieva, T., Martschenko, D. O. 2024: 100554


    Despite the profound impacts of scientific research, few scientists have received the necessary training to productively discuss the ethical and societal implications of their work. To address this critical gap, we-a group of predominantly human genetics trainees-developed a course on genetics, ethics, and society. We intend for this course to serve as a template for other institutions and scientific disciplines. Our curriculum positions human genetics within its historical and societal context and encourages students to evaluate how societal norms and structures impact the conduct of scientific research. We demonstrate the utility of this course via surveys of enrolled students and provide resources and strategies for others hoping to teach a similar course. We conclude by arguing that if we are to work toward rectifying the inequities and injustices produced by our field, we must first learn to view our own research as impacting and being impacted by society.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.xgen.2024.100554

    View details for PubMedID 38697124

  • Including multiracial individuals is crucial for race, ethnicity and ancestry frameworks in genetics and genomics. Nature genetics Martschenko, D. O., Wand, H., Young, J. L., Wojcik, G. L. 2023

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41588-023-01394-y

    View details for PubMedID 37202500

  • The Value of Intersectionality for Genomic Research on Human Behavior. Genetics in medicine : official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics Matthews, L. J., Martschenko, D. O., Sabatello, M. 2023: 100860

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.gim.2023.100860

    View details for PubMedID 37092536

  • Wrestling with Public Input on an Ethical Analysis of Scientific Research. The Hastings Center report Martschenko, D. O., Callier, S. L., Garrison, N. A., Lee, S. S., Turley, P., Meyer, M. N., Parens, E. 2023; 53 Suppl 1: S50-S65


    Bioethicists frequently call for empirical researchers to engage participants and community members in their research, but don't themselves typically engage community members in their normative research. In this article, we describe an effort to include members of the public in normative discussions about the risks, potential benefits, and ethical responsibilities of social and behavioral genomics (SBG) research. We reflect on what might-and might not- be gained from engaging the public in normative scholarship and on lessons learned about public perspectives on the risks and potential benefits of SBG research and the responsible conduct and communication of such research. We also provide procedural lessons for others in bioethics who are interested in engaging members of the public in their research.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/hast.1478

    View details for PubMedID 37079856

  • Data sharing and community-engaged research. Science (New York, N.Y.) Sabatello, M., Martschenko, D. O., Cho, M. K., Brothers, K. B. 2022; 378 (6616): 141-143


    Data sharing must be accompanied by responsibility sharing.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.abq6851

    View details for PubMedID 36227983

  • Ethical, anticipatory genomics research on human behavior means celebrating disagreement. HGG advances Martschenko, D. O., Trejo, S. 1800; 3 (1): 100080


    Despite the many social and ethical considerations in human genetics, researchers and communities remain largely siloed as for-profit, direct-to-consumer genetic testing and the application of polygenic scores to invitro fertilization services become increasingly prevalent. The multifaceted challenges facing genomics, both empirical and ethical, require collaborations that foster critical dialogue and honest debate between communities inside and outside the research enterprise. This piece argues that in order to respond to the premature or inappropriate use of genomic data in industry, the scientific community needs to first embrace, understand, and be in dialogue about its disagreements. We introduce the research framework of adversarial collaboration as a way to celebrate disagreement and productively work toward policy-informed, ethical, and anticipatory genomics research.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.xhgg.2021.100080

    View details for PubMedID 35047864

  • FoGS provides a public FAQ repository for social and behavioral genomic discoveries. Nature genetics Martschenko, D. O., Domingue, B. W., Matthews, L. J., Trejo, S. 2021; 53 (9): 1272-1274

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41588-021-00929-5

    View details for PubMedID 34493865

  • Practical Approaches to Enhancing Fairness, Social Responsibility and the Inclusion of Diverse Viewpoints in Biomedicine. Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing. Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing Martschenko, D. O., Martinez-Martin, N., Halley, M. 2024; 29: 645-649


    The following sections are included:Workshop DescriptionLearning ObjectivesPresenter InformationAbout the Workshop OrganizersPresentationsSpeaker Presentations.

    View details for PubMedID 38160313

  • Placing Publics in Public Health Genomics. Public health genomics Fox, B. M., Martschenko, D. O. 2024; 27 (1): 23-29

    View details for DOI 10.1159/000535942

    View details for PubMedID 38128495

  • Are we nearly there yet? Starts and stops on the road to use of polygenic scores. Journal of community genetics Moorthie, S., Martschenko, D. O., Fatumo, S. 2023

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s12687-023-00672-w

    View details for PubMedID 37759103

    View details for PubMedCentralID 7614889

  • Social and Behavioral Genomics: What Does It Mean for Pediatrics? The Journal of pediatrics Martschenko, D. O., Matthews, L. J., Sabatello, M. 2023: 113735


    Social and behavioral genomics is an emerging field that investigates whether and how molecular genetic differences between individuals relate to differences in behavioral and social outcomes such as cognitive ability, income, sexual orientation, and years of schooling. The field is the subject of ongoing academic debate and controversy. While increased attention has been devoted to considering the downstream social and ethical implications of social and behavioral genomics, limited attention has thus far been devoted to examining the specific implications of social and behavioral genomics for pediatric populations. We provide a brief overview of current and future applications of social and behavioral data to pediatric populations and discuss a variety of social and ethical issues arising from these applications. We argue that in order to minimize appropriately the risks and promote the benefits of social and behavioral genomics, a dialogue among clinicians, researchers, caregivers, and pediatric populations is needed.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2023.113735

    View details for PubMedID 37722558

  • Promoting diagnostic equity: specifying genetic similarity rather than race or ethnicity. Journal of medical ethics Saylor, K. W., Martschenko, D. O. 2023

    View details for DOI 10.1136/jme-2023-109449

    View details for PubMedID 37714695

  • Beware of the phony horserace between genes and environments. The Behavioral and brain sciences Trejo, S., Martschenko, D. O. 2023; 46: e228


    Although Burt provides a valuable critique of the scientific value of integrating genetic data into social science research, she reinforces rather than disrupts the age-old horserace between genetic effects and environmental effects. We must move past this false dichotomy to create a new ontology that recognizes the ways in which genetic and environmental processes are inextricably intertwined.

    View details for DOI 10.1017/S0140525X22002485

    View details for PubMedID 37695009

  • Wrestling with Social and Behavioral Genomics: Risks, Potential Benefits, and Ethical Responsibility. The Hastings Center report Meyer, M. N., Appelbaum, P. S., Benjamin, D. J., Callier, S. L., Comfort, N., Conley, D., Freese, J., Garrison, N. A., Hammonds, E. M., Harden, K. P., Lee, S. S., Martin, A. R., Martschenko, D. O., Neale, B. M., Palmer, R. H., Tabery, J., Turkheimer, E., Turley, P., Parens, E. 2023; 53 Suppl 1: S2-S49


    In this consensus report by a diverse group of academics who conduct and/or are concerned about social and behavioral genomics (SBG) research, the authors recount the often-ugly history of scientific attempts to understand the genetic contributions to human behaviors and social outcomes. They then describe what the current science-including genomewide association studies and polygenic indexes-can and cannot tell us, as well as its risks and potential benefits. They conclude with a discussion of responsible behavior in the context of SBG research. SBG research that compares individuals within a group according to a "sensitive" phenotype requires extra attention to responsible conduct and to responsible communication about the research and its findings. SBG research (1) on sensitive phenotypes that (2) compares two or more groups defined by (a) race, (b) ethnicity, or (c) genetic ancestry (where genetic ancestry could easily be misunderstood as race or ethnicity) requires a compelling justification to be conducted, funded, or published. All authors agree that this justification at least requires a convincing argument that a study's design could yield scientifically valid results; some authors would additionally require the study to have a socially favorable risk-benefit profile.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/hast.1477

    View details for PubMedID 37078667

  • Confronting ethical and social issues related to the genetics of musicality ANNALS OF THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES Gordon, R. L., Martschenko, D. O., Nayak, S., Niarchou, M., Morrison, M. D., Bell, E., Jacoby, N., Davis, L. K. 2023; 1522 (1): 5-14


    New interdisciplinary research into genetic influences on musicality raises a number of ethical and social issues for future avenues of research and public engagement. The historical intersection of music cognition and eugenics heightens the need to vigilantly weigh the potential risks and benefits of these studies and the use of their outcomes. Here, we bring together diverse disciplinary expertise (complex trait genetics, music cognition, musicology, bioethics, developmental psychology, and neuroscience) to interpret and guide the ethical use of findings from recent and future studies. We discuss a framework for incorporating principles of ethically and socially responsible conduct of musicality genetics research into each stage of the research lifecycle: study design, study implementation, potential applications, and communication.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/nyas.14972

    View details for Web of Science ID 000940948700001

    View details for PubMedID 36851882

  • Re-envisioning community genetics: community empowerment in preventive genomics. Journal of community genetics Wand, H., Martschenko, D. O., Smitherman, A., Michelson, S., Pun, T., Witte, J. S., Scott, S. A., Cho, M. K., Ashley, E. A., Preventive Genomics Program Co-Design Working Group, Goldberg, E., Knepper, L., Michelson, S., Osborne, J., Sanders, V. 2023


    As genomic technologies rapidly develop, polygenic scores (PGS) are entering into a growing conversation on how to improve precision in public health and prevent chronic disease. While the integration of PGS into public health and clinical services raises potential benefits, it also introduces potential harms. In particular, there is a high level of uncertainty about how to incorporate PGS into clinical settings in a manner that is equitable, just, and aligned with the long-term goals of many healthcare systems to support person-centered and value-based care. This paper argues that any conversation about whether and how to design and implement PGS clinical services requires dynamic engagement with local communities, patients, and families. These parties often face the consequences, both positive and negative, of such uncertainties and should therefore drive clinical translation. As a collaborative effort between hospital stakeholders, community partners, and researchers, this paper describes a community-empowered co-design process for addressing uncertainty and making programmatic decisions about the implementation of PGS into clinical services. We provide a framework for others interested in designing clinical programs that are responsive to, and inclusive and respectful of, local communities.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s12687-023-00638-y

    View details for PubMedID 36765027

  • Black Bioethics in the Age of Black Lives Matter JOURNAL OF MEDICAL HUMANITIES Ray, K., Fletcher, F. E., Martschenko, D. O., James, J. E. 2023: 1-17

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10912-023-09783-4

    View details for Web of Science ID 000929208100001

    View details for PubMedID 36752936

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9905759

  • Social and Behavioural Genomics and the Ethics of (In)Visibility GENETIC SCIENCE AND NEW DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES Martschenko, D., Sikka, T. 2023: 9-27
  • Rethinking the "Public" and Rethinking "Engagement". The American journal of bioethics : AJOB Fox, B., Martschenko, D. O. 2023; 23 (7): 66-68

    View details for DOI 10.1080/15265161.2023.2207517

    View details for PubMedID 37339316

  • Precision Medicine Needs to Think Outside the Box. Frontiers in genetics Martschenko, D. O., Young, J. L. 2022; 13: 795992


    Precision medicine offers a precious opportunity to change clinical practice and disrupt medicine's reliance on crude racial, ethnic, or ancestral categories by focusing on an individual's unique genetic, environmental, and lifestyle characteristics. However, precision medicine and the genomic studies that are its cornerstone have thus far failed to account for human diversity. This failure is made clearer when looking at individuals who encapsulate a mosaic of different genetic ancestries and do not fit neatly into existing population labels. This piece argues that precision medicine continues to rely on the same forms of crude categorization it seeks to unsettle. Until the scientific community creates inclusive solutions for individuals who fall outside or between our existing population labels, precision medicine will continue to fall short in its aims.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fgene.2022.795992

    View details for PubMedID 35559033

  • The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality (Book Review) HASTINGS CENTER REPORT Book Review Authored by: Martschenko, D. 2021; 51 (6): 54-55


    Genes have long been used to validate social inequality. The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality, by Kathryn Paige Harden, attempts not only to reclaim genetic research on human behavior from its eugenic past but also to argue that genetic research can be used to understand and enhance social equality. This review essay illustrates why embracing a political agenda in which genetics matter for social equality will not in practice advance efforts to reduce social inequality. It argues that the points raised in The Genetic Lottery would be important in an alternate world in which structural inequalities have ceased to exist, but not in the world we live in today.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/hast.1307

    View details for Web of Science ID 000730395000014

    View details for PubMedID 34904740

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9210985

  • Normalizing race in (gifted) education: genomics and spaces of White exceptionalism CRITICAL STUDIES IN EDUCATION Martschenko, D. 2023; 64 (1): 67-83
  • "The elephant in the room": social responsibility in the production of sociogenomics research BIOSOCIETIES Martschenko, D. 2022; 17 (4): 713-731


    Sociogenomics examines the extent to which genetic differences between individuals relate to differences in social and economic behaviors and outcomes. The field evokes mixed reactions. For some, sociogenomics runs the risk of normalizing eugenic attitudes and legitimizing social inequalities. For others, sociogenomics brings the promise of more robust and nuanced understandings of human behavior. Regardless, a history of misuse and misapplication of genetics raises important questions about researchers' social responsibilities. This paper draws on semi-structured interviews with sociogenomics researchers who investigate intelligence and educational attainment. It does so to understand how researcher's motivations for engaging in a historically burdened field connect to their views on social responsibility and the challenges that come with it. In interviews, researchers highlighted the trade-off between engaging in socially contested research and the potential benefits their work poses to the social sciences and clinical research. They also highlighted the dilemmas of engaging with the public, including the existence of multiple publics. Finally, researchers elucidated uncertainties over what social responsibility is in practice and whether protecting against the misuse and misinterpretation of their research is wholly possible. This paper concludes by offering ways to address some of the challenges of social responsibility in the production of knowledge.

    View details for DOI 10.1057/s41292-021-00239-3

    View details for Web of Science ID 000669268700002

    View details for PubMedID 36532361

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9754080

  • What about Ethics in Design Bioethics? AMERICAN JOURNAL OF BIOETHICS Martschenko, D., Martinez-Martin, N. 2021; 21 (6): 61-63

    View details for DOI 10.1080/15265161.2021.1915415

    View details for Web of Science ID 000654731300015

    View details for PubMedID 34036888

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8281611

  • Genes do not operate in a vacuum, and neither should our research NATURE GENETICS Martschenko, D., Smith, M. 2021; 53 (3): 255–56

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41588-021-00802-5

    View details for Web of Science ID 000626724200001

    View details for PubMedID 33686261

  • Embodying biopolitically discriminate borders: teachers' spatializations of race DISCOURSE-STUDIES IN THE CULTURAL POLITICS OF EDUCATION Martschenko, D. 2022; 43 (1): 101-114


    Borders are constructs that shape our understandings of our societies, communities, and the world. Geospatial borders draw distinctions between neighborhoods and schools that are deemed 'worthy' and 'unworthy' of economic, social, and political investment. This paper employs the theoretical framework of 'discriminate biopower' to argue that geospatial borders produce a 'socio-political invisibility' linked to race and racial inequality. Through focus group discussions with kindergarten - grade eight educators in the Chicago metropolitan area of the United States, this paper provides evidence of how understandings of race are spatially applied by teachers. Findings suggest that teachers located and conflated individuals and racial groups with physical locations, demonstrating how spatial borders and the practice of bordering function as a biopolitical and segregationist way to understand race and power.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/01596306.2020.1813089

    View details for Web of Science ID 000568759200001

    View details for PubMedID 35692447

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC9181023

  • "The train has left the station": The arrival of the biosocial sciences in education RESEARCH IN EDUCATION Martschenko, D. 2020; 107 (1): 3–9
  • DNA Dreams': Teacher Perspectives on the Role and Relevance of Genetics for Education RESEARCH IN EDUCATION Martschenko, D. 2020; 107 (1): 33–54
  • Genetics and Education: Recent Developments in the Context of an Ugly History and an Uncertain Future AERA OPEN Martschenko, D., Trejo, S., Domingue, B. W. 2019; 5 (1)