Zallen studies the social, ethical, and policy issues arising from advances in genetic and reproductive technologies, including the modes of policy-making--and unmaking--in bioethics. She specializes in genetic testing for susceptibility to common disorders, the history of clinical genetics, gene therapy research policy, and genetic science and the public.
Zallen is the creator and producer of the Choices and Challenges forum series, one of the most effective and highest profile outreach efforts at Virginia Tech over the past two decades. She received the 2006 Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence for this and other outreach activities. She is the author of To Test or not to Test: A Guide to Genetic Screening and Risk, published by Rutgers University Press.
At Virginia Tech, she teaches a course on Issues in Bioethics. This course provides students with in-depth exposure to ethical, social, and policy issues related to experimentation -- human, animal, and genetically modified microbes. Through readings, discussions, and written assignments, the students emerge with a greater understanding of their responsibilities as scientists as well as to their research subjects and to society as a whole. Students who successfully complete this course receive certification, now required by the federal government, from the Virginia Tech Institutional Review Board attesting to their training in human-subjects protections. Zallen has incorporated modules on specific CTE issues into this course.