Race and ancestry in biomedical research: exploring the challenges

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2013-10-13 18:43Z by Steven

Race and ancestry in biomedical research: exploring the challenges

Genome Medicine 2009
Volume 1, Number 8 (2009-01-21)
DOI: 10.1186/gm8

Timothy Caulfield
Faculty of Law and School of Public Health Research, Health Law Institute
University of Alberta

Stephanie M Fullerton
Department of Medical History and Ethics and Department of Genome Sciences
University of Washington School of Medicine

Sarah E Ali-Khan
Program on Life Sciences Ethics and Policy, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, University Health Network
University of Toronto

Laura Arbour
Faculty of Medicine, Island Medical Program
University of British Columbia

Esteban G. Burchard
Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences and Department of Medicine, Divisions of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenetics, Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, and Clinical Pharmacology
University of California, San Francisco

Richard S. Cooper
Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, Stritch School of Medicine
Loyola University

Billie-Jo Hardy
Program on Life Sciences Ethics and Policy, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, University Health Network
University of Toronto

Simrat Harry
Faculty of Law and School of Public Health Research, Health Law Institute
University of Alberta

Robyn Hyde-Lay
Genome Alberta, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Jonathan Kahn
Hamline University School of Law

Rick Kittles
Department of Medicine, Section of Genetic Medicine, Department of Human Genetics
University of Chicago

Barbara A. Koenig
Program in Professionalism & Bioethics
Mayo College of Medicine

Sandra S. J. Lee
Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics
Stanford University Medical School

Michael Malinowski
Paul M Hebert Law Center
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Vardit Ravitsky
Department of Medical Ethics and Center for Bioethics
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Pamela Sankar
Department of Medical Ethics and Center for Bioethics
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Stephen W. Scherer
for Applied Genomics, The Hospital for Sick Children, and Department of Molecular Genetics
University of Toronto

BĂ©atrice SĂ©guin
Leslie Dan School of Pharmacy; Program on Life Sciences Ethics and Policy, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, University Health Network
University of Toronto

Darren Shickle
Leeds Institute of Health Sciences,
University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Guilherme Suarez-Kurtz
Pharmacology Division
Instituto Nacional de Câncer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Abdallah S. Daar
Program on Life Sciences Ethics and Policy, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, University Health Network; Department of Public Health Sciences and of Surgery; McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine; Department of Medicine
University of Toronto

The use of race in biomedical research has, for decades, been a source of social controversy. However, recent events, such as the adoption of racially targeted pharmaceuticals, have raised the profile of the race issue. In addition, we are entering an era in which genomic research is increasingly focused on the nature and extent of human genetic variation, often examined by population, which leads to heightened potential for misunderstandings or misuse of terms concerning genetic variation and race. Here, we draw together the perspectives of participants in a recent interdisciplinary workshop on ancestry and health in medicine in order to explore the use of race in research issue from the vantage point of a variety of disciplines. We review the nature of the race controversy in the context of biomedical research and highlight several challenges to policy action, including restrictions resulting from commercial or regulatory considerations, the difficulty in presenting precise terminology in the media, and drifting or ambiguous definitions of key terms.

Correspondence

Recent advances in biomedical research promise increasing insights into complex contributions to traits and diseases, and there is hope that these will lead to global health benefits [1,2] . Analytical and social-justice considerations both recommend thoughtful assessment of the role of social identity, particularly racial or ethnic identity, in the design, conduct and dissemination of clinical and basic science research. Controversies ranging from James Watson’s comments on racial differences in intelligence [3] to the adoption of racially targeted pharmaceuticals, such as the African-American heart-failure drug BiDil [4-7] , remind us that use of the concept of race in biomedical research can have far-reaching, often unanticipated social consequences.

The problem of race in scientific research is not a new one, and the issue seems to perpetually reappear and remain fundamentally unresolved [8] . We are, however, entering a new era in which the fruits of initiatives, such as the Human Genome Project [9,10] , the International Haplotype Map Project [11] , and the recently proposed 1000 Genomes Project [12] , promise to elaborate more fully than ever before the nature and extent of human genetic variation and its relation to social identity. A recent interdisciplinary workshop, ‘Ancestry in health and medicine; expanding the debate’, hosted by the Alberta Health Law Institute and the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, in Toronto, Canada, sought to debate the current status and concerns surrounding these new scientific data, how we relate genetic variation to individual and population-level differences in observable traits, and what this might mean for the effective addressing of significant disparities in health status and disease. A central motivating consideration was how best to secure the anticipated benefits of genetic and related forms of biomedical research in the face of inevitable misunderstandings or misuse concerning genetic variation and race.

Here, we draw together the perspectives of the scholars who participated in the workshop, who have considered the race issue from the vantage point of a variety of disciplines: anthropology, bioethics, clinical medicine, ethical, social, cultural studies, genetic epidemiology, genome sciences, global heath research, law and the social sciences. We review the nature of the race controversy in the context of biomedical research and highlight several challenges to policy action…

Read the entire correspondence here.

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What’s the Use of Race? Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2010-06-24 03:56Z by Steven

What’s the Use of Race? Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference

The MIT Press
May 2010
7 x 9, 296 pp., 7 illus.
ISBN-10: 0-262-51424-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-262-51424-8

Edited by

Ian Whitmarsh, Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

David S. Jones, Associate Professor of History and Culture of Science and Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The post–civil rights era perspective of many scientists and scholars was that race was nothing more than a social construction. Recently, however, the relevance of race as a social, legal, and medical category has been reinvigorated by science, especially by discoveries in genetics. Although in 2000 the Human Genome Project reported that humans shared 99.9 percent of their genetic code, scientists soon began to argue that the degree of variation was actually greater than this, and that this variation maps naturally onto conventional categories of race. In the context of this rejuvenated biology of race, the contributors to What’s the Use of Race? investigate whether race can be a category of analysis without reinforcing it as a basis for discrimination. Can policies that aim to alleviate inequality inadvertently increase it by reifying race differences?

The essays focus on contemporary questions at the cutting edge of genetics and governance, examining them from the perspectives of law, science, and medicine. The book follows the use of race in three domains of governance: ruling, knowing, and caring. Contributors first examine the use of race and genetics in the courtroom, law enforcement, and scientific oversight; then explore the ways that race becomes, implicitly or explicitly, part of the genomic science that attempts to address human diversity; and finally investigate how race is used to understand and act on inequities in health and disease. Answering these questions is essential for setting policies for biology and citizenship in the twenty-first century.

Contributors: Richard Ashcroft, Richard S. Cooper, Kjell A. Doksum, George T. H. Ellison, Steven Epstein, Joan H. Fujimura, Amy Hinterberger, Angela C. Jenks, David S. Jones, Jonathan Kahn, Jay S. Kaufman, Nancy Krieger, Paul Martin, Pilar N. Ossorio, Simon Outram, Ramya Rajagopalan, Dorothy Roberts, Pamela Sankar, Andrew Smart, Richard Tutton, Ian Whitmarsh

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