As a trained medical anthropologist my research focuses on how different forms of social stratification, in particular, class, race, and ethnicity, contribute to produce and reproduce health inequalities in marginalized populations. I have conducted extensive fieldwork on the ethics of clinical trials, HIV risk, People Who Inject Drugs (PWID), and health disparities among Latino populations in a variety of settings in Latin America, the Caribbean and the US.
I explore the relationship between health inequalities and the ethics of human subjects’ protection. Based on my doctoral dissertation, my book, The Professional Guinea Pig: Big Pharma and the Risky World of Human Subjects (2010, Duke University Press) – recognized with the Best Book of the Year Award by the Medical Sociology Section of the British Sociological Association– illustrates how vulnerable subjects can be exposed to disproportionate health risks. More recently, my ethical inquiry lead to examine how trust is established and maintained among a PWID enrolled in community health research in Puerto Rico.
As field ethnographer for REACH, I am in charge of data collection for a study of Social Networks and Risk among People Who Inject Drugs in rural Puerto Rico. I employ extensive ethnographic methods to map drug users’ locations in a web of social networks, and the social practices that shape drug use. While this study is still ongoing, starting in the spring 2019, I will collect post-disaster data of PWID living in four rural communities in Puerto Rico to document behavioral and structural factors affecting barriers and facilitators to Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) enrollment.
I currently serve as a grant reviewer for the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. My research has appeared in Time Magazine, BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Miami Herald and the Philadelphia Inquirer among other venues.
Abadie, R., Gelpi-Acosta, C., Davila, C., Rivera, A., Welch-Lazoritz, M., Dombrowski, K. (2018). “It Ruined My Life”: The effects of the War on Drugs on people who inject drugs (PWID) in rural Puerto Rico. International Journal of Drug Policy. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.06.11
Abadie, R. (2017). “To Enroll or not to Enroll? A Researcher Struggles with the Decision to Involve Study Participants in a Clinical Trial that could Save their Lives”, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, 7(1):71-77.
Abadie R, Welch-Lazoritz M, Gelpi-Acosta C, Reyes J.C, Dombrowski K. (2016). “Prevalence and Risk Factors of HCV Infection among PWID in Rural Puerto Rico. Harm Reduction Journal. 13:10 doi: 10.1186/s12954-016-0099-9
Abadie, R., Kimmelman, J., Lafleur, J., Lemmens, T. (2014). “Consent for Nondiagnostic Research Biopsies: A Pilot Study of Participant Recall and Therapeutic Orientation.” IRB Ethics & Human Research, 2014; 36(3): 9-15
Abadie, R., Weymiller, AJ., Tilburt, J., Shah, ND., Charles, C., Gafni, A., Montori, VM. (2009). “Clinician’s Use of the Statin Choice Decision Aid in Patients with Diabetes: a Videographic Study Nested in a Randomized Trial.”. J. Eval Clin Pract, 15(3):492-7. Epub 2009 Apr. 2.
Elliott, C., Abadie, R. (2008). “Exploiting a Research Underclass in Phase 1 Clinical Trials.” New England Journal of Medicine, Perspective, 358(22):2316-7.
Recent Grant Activity
Investigator. PIs Kirk Dombrowski (UNL), Bilal Khan (CUNY) and Juan Carlos Reyes (UPR). National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA). “Injection Risk Networks in Rural Puerto Rico”. NIH/NIDA Grant RO1DAO37117. $3,414,000. 2014-2019
PI. National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA). "Assessing the effects of hurricane Maria on Opioid Agonist Treatment access among PWID in rural Puerto Rico". R21DA047304. $412.763 2018-2020
PI. Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute/National Institutes of Drug Abuse R25DA031608-01. $20,000. PI. 2016-2018