Digna Velez Edwards, PhD, MS

Division Director
Quantitative Sciences
Womens Health Research
Obstetrics and Gynecology

Division: Quantitative Sciences
Research Interests: Reproductive Epidemiology, Uterine Fibroids, Genetic Epidemiology, Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes, Endometriosis, Gynecologic Health, Electronic Health Records, Big Data Genomics


PhD, Vanderbilt University, 2008
MS, Vanderbilt University, 2008
Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Miami, 2009​


Dr. Digna Velez Edwards is a genetic epidemiologist, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Biomedical Informatics, Director of the Division of Quantitative Sciences in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Director of Women's Health Research center, Investigator of the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, and a member of the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center. She has doctoral training in human genetics and has a master's degree in statistics. She started as faculty in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2010 pursuing research focused on understanding the genetic determinants of racial disparities and the role of gene and environment interactions in the risk for complex diseases, with a specific interest in fibroproliferative disorders that include uterine fibroids and keloids and diseases that disproportionately impact women's reproductive health.

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. 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.

Research Information

Her research is focused on understanding and identifying genetic risk factors for complex diseases with a specific focus on diseases that disproportionately impact minorities and genetic factors related to women's health and reproductive outcomes. She utilizes large clinical databases that link electronic health record (EHR) information to DNA and the Right from the Start cohort, a community-based prospective pregnancy cohort.

Current research projects include genetic studies of preterm birth, miscarriage, uterine fibroids, pelvic organ prolapse, and keloids. These studies include genome-wide association analyses, next-generation sequencing, evaluation of biomarkers, and phenome-wide association studies.