Black And White In America: Study Reveals Many Americans Have Mixed Race Background They Were Unaware Of

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2014-12-19 21:40Z by Steven

Black And White In America: Study Reveals Many Americans Have Mixed Race Background They Were Unaware Of

Medical Daily
New York, New York

Dana Dovey, Health Journalist

Earlier this year, National Geographic made headlines with its “Changing Face of America” article. The story explained that America was becoming more comfortable with interracial relationships, and as a result, the future would be made up of a group of people with features from multiple races. A new study has challenged this hypothesis and suggested that this “mixed race future” is already here. We just never realized it.

The study, published by Cell Press, found that there is quite a large difference in the race that people identify with and what they actually are. In a recent study, researchers analyzed the DNA of more than 160,000 Americans who had offered their saliva as part of the 23andMe project. What researchers found was surprising.

The study found that, as expected, people tended to identify with the race that made up the majority of their background. However, for many, this self-identification was not completely accurate. According to the press release, the team estimated that as many as six million Americans who identify as white from a European background carry African ancestry and as many as five million self-described European white Americans have Native American ancestry….

Read the entire article here.

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The Genetic Ancestry of African Americans, Latinos, and European Americans across the United States

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2014-12-19 02:12Z by Steven

The Genetic Ancestry of African Americans, Latinos, and European Americans across the United States

The American Journal of Human Genetics
Published online: 2014-12-18
17 pages
DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2014.11.010

Katarzyna Bryc, Research Fellow in Genetics (EXT)
Department of Genetics
Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Eric Y. Durand
23andMe, Inc., Mountain View, California

J. Michael Macpherson, Assistant Professor
School of Computational Sciences
Chapman University, Orange, California

David Reich, Professor of Genetics
Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Joanna L. Mountain, Senior Director of Research
23andMe, Inc., Mountain View, California

Over the past 500 years, North America has been the site of ongoing mixing of Native Americans, European settlers, and Africans (brought largely by the trans-Atlantic slave trade), shaping the early history of what became the United States. We studied the genetic ancestry of 5,269 self-described African Americans, 8,663 Latinos, and 148,789 European Americans who are 23andMe customers and show that the legacy of these historical interactions is visible in the genetic ancestry of present-day Americans. We document pervasive mixed ancestry and asymmetrical male and female ancestry contributions in all groups studied. We show that regional ancestry differences reflect historical events, such as early Spanish colonization, waves of immigration from many regions of Europe, and forced relocation of Native Americans within the US. This study sheds light on the fine-scale differences in ancestry within and across the United States and informs our understanding of the relationship between racial and ethnic identities and genetic ancestry.

Read the entire article here.

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Genetic diversity of Sub-Saharan Africa revealed

Posted in Africa, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-12-16 02:40Z by Steven

Genetic diversity of Sub-Saharan Africa revealed

BBC News

Rebecca Morelle, Science Correspondent

Scientists have completed a comprehensive study of genetic diversity in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The African Genome Variation Project analysed the DNA of 1,800 people living across the continent.

The data is helping scientists to understand how susceptibility to disease varies across the region and has provided more insight into how populations have moved within Africa.

The research is published in the journal Nature.

Until now, most studies examining genetic risk factors for disease have focused on Europe. Little has been known about Africa, the most genetically diverse region in the world.

Dr Manj Sandhu, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge, said: “We originally set out to look at chronic diseases in Africa, and one strategy to understand the causes of those diseases is to look at the underlying genetic susceptibility.

“But to do that, you need a pretty good grasp of the variation in genomes across the region, but we realised that information wasn’t available.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the Twentieth Century

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Monographs on 2014-12-12 21:18Z by Steven

Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the Twentieth Century

Columbia University Press
September 2014
304 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780231168748
E-book ISBN: 9780231537995

Michael Yudell, Associate Professor, Interim Chair, Community Health and Prevention
Drexel University School of Public Health, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Foreword by J. Craig Venter

Race, while drawn from the visual cues of human diversity, is an idea with a measurable past, an identifiable present, and an uncertain future. The concept of race has been at the center of both triumphs and tragedies in American history and has had a profound effect on the human experience. Race Unmasked revisits the origins of commonly held beliefs about the scientific nature of racial differences, examines the roots of the modern idea of race, and explains why race continues to generate controversy as a tool of classification even in our genomic age.

Surveying the work of some of the twentieth century’s most notable scientists, Race Unmasked reveals how genetics and related biological disciplines formed and preserved ideas of race and, at times, racism. A gripping history of science and scientists, Race Unmasked elucidates the limitations of a racial worldview and throws the contours of our current and evolving understanding of human diversity into sharp relief.


  • Foreword by J. Craig Venter
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. A Eugenic Foundation
  • 2. Charles Davenport and the Biology of Blackness
  • 3. Eugenics in the Public’s Eye
  • 4. The National Research Council and the Scientific Study of Race
  • 5. Coloring Race Difference
  • 6. Biology and the Problem of the Color Line
  • 7. Race and the Evolutionary Synthesis
  • 8. Consolidating the Race Concept in Biology
  • 9. Challenges to the Race Concept
  • 10. Naturalizing Racism: The Controversy Over Sociobiology
  • 11. Race in the Genomic Age
  • Epilogue: Dobzhansky’s Paradox and the Future of Racial Research
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Rethinking 21st Century Racism on the Way Home

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-12 02:17Z by Steven

Rethinking 21st Century Racism on the Way Home

Council for Responsible Genetics
Volume 27, Issue 2 (May-July 2014)

Victoria Massie, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley

Returning home from fieldwork can be difficult when you find yourself caught between an unintended call back to your project and the impending reality that home has lost its capacity to act as sanctuary. That was at least the situated liminality I encountered in the John F. Kennedy International Airport on July 16, 2013. Fresh off of a flight from Belgium after leaving Cameroon, I met America at a crossroads. It had been a little over 48 hours since the news had circulated around the country, and the world, that self-proclaimed neighborhood watchman-turned-vigilante George Zimmerman was found not guilty for stalking and shooting in the chest at point-blank range a young 17 year-old boy, Trayvon Martin, who was simply returning home after buying some skittles and iced tea.

Indeed, since I had left it in May, America had proven itself audacious and arrogant in ways that I could not stomach. To think it had only been a few days earlier that I met with a young Cameroonian woman at a café in downtown Douala to inform her that, despite the election of Barack Obama, America still has yet to fully confront the legacy of racism. That it still haunts those bodies whose skin does not prove bright enough to mirror the clouds. That despite her dreams of changing the world through medicine, America was not necessarily likely to welcome her, at least not with open arms. That she, like me, like my family, like many of my friends, would come to find herself engaging in the fight of her life in the pursuit of her happiness away from home.

As I sat in the waiting area, anxious to board my final flight to San Francisco, I doubted my advice had been marked by anything more than naïveté. After all, surrounded by television screens in every direction, all of which seemed to be tuned in to the same program on CNN, I listened as one of the jurors, protected by the veil of anonymity in a world marked by surveillance, echoed the President’s official statement that the verdict was justice served.

I was not thirsty enough to swallow the audacious idea that one could condone the possibility that it could ever be rational to consume black life, my life, with all of its innocent willingness to exist, with impunity…

…Much work has been done to discuss the problematic ways American racial categories are, without even a second thought, being re-inscribed into the genome through what has come to be called genetic “ancestry.” And though its applications were first limited to the field of biomedicine, the burgeoning field of direct-to-consumer DNA tests has turned ancestry testing into the latest American pastime. From spit-parties at New York fashion week to Baptist church services and family reunion backyard barbeques, it seems most Americans know someone who has taken a genetic ancestry test, or have done so themselves. While I was working at the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley this summer, the director, Marcy Darnovsky, shared with me her recent encounter with a woman in a checkout line in Trader Joe’s. With a voice that carried across the aisles, the woman standing in front of her announced to a friend – and, unintentionally, the rest of the grocery store – the various percentages of African, European, Asian and Native American ancestry seamlessly replicating within her…

Read the entire article here.

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The African Genome Variation Project shapes medical genetics in Africa

Posted in Africa, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-12-11 02:16Z by Steven

The African Genome Variation Project shapes medical genetics in Africa

Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science
Published online: 2014-12-03
15 pages
DOI: 10.1038/nature13997

Deepti Gurdasani
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
Genome Campus
Hinxton, Cambridge, United Kingdom

et. al.

Given the importance of Africa to studies of human origins and disease susceptibility, detailed characterization of African genetic diversity is needed. The African Genome Variation Project provides a resource with which to design, implement and interpret genomic studies in sub-Saharan Africa and worldwide. The African Genome Variation Project represents dense genotypes from 1,481 individuals and whole-genome sequences from 320 individuals across sub-Saharan Africa. Using this resource, we find novel evidence of complex, regionally distinct hunter-gatherer and Eurasian admixture across sub-Saharan Africa. We identify new loci under selection, including loci related to malaria susceptibility and hypertension. We show that modern imputation panels (sets of reference genotypes from which unobserved or missing genotypes in study sets can be inferred) can identify association signals at highly differentiated loci across populations in sub-Saharan Africa. Using whole-genome sequencing, we demonstrate further improvements in imputation accuracy, strengthening the case for large-scale sequencing efforts of diverse African haplotypes. Finally, we present an efficient genotype array design capturing common genetic variation in Africa.

Read the entire article here.

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Smoking Trajectories Among Monoracial and Biracial Black Adolescents and Young Adults

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Work, United States on 2014-12-01 19:42Z by Steven

Smoking Trajectories Among Monoracial and Biracial Black Adolescents and Young Adults

Journal of Drug Issues
Volume 45, Number 1 (January 2015)
pages 22-37
DOI: 10.1177/0022042614542511

Trenette T. Clark, Assistant Professor of Social Work
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Anh B. Nguyen, Cancer Prevention Fellow
Science of Research and Technology Branch (SRTB)
Behavioral Research Program (BRP)
National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland

Emanuel Coman
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Cigarette-smoking trajectories were assessed among monorace Blacks, Black–American Indians, Black–Asians, Black–Hispanics, and Black–Whites. We used a subsample of nationally representative data obtained from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The sample consisted of adolescents who were in Grades 7 to 12 in 1994, and followed across four waves of data collection into adulthood. Wave 4 data were collected in 2007-2008 when most respondents were between 24 and 32 years old. Respondents could report more than one race/ethnicity. Poisson’s regression was used to analyze the data. We found distinct smoking trajectories among monorace and biracial/ethnic Blacks, with all groups eventually equaling or surpassing trajectories of Whites. The age of cross-over varied by gender for some subgroups, with Black–American Indian males catching up earlier than Black–American Indian females. Black–White females smoked on more days than monorace Black females until age 26 and also smoked more than Black–White males between ages 11 and 29 years. Black–Hispanic males smoked on more days than Black–Hispanic females from ages 11 to 14. The results of the interaction tests also indicated different smoking trajectories across socioeconomic status (SES) levels among White, Black, and Black–White respondents. Significant heterogeneity was observed regarding smoking trajectories between monorace and biracial/ethnic Blacks. Knowledge of cigarette-smoking patterns among monorace and biracial/ethnic Black youth and young adults extends our understanding of the etiology of tobacco use and may inform interventions.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Dorothy Roberts, “Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race.”

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Videos on 2014-11-28 23:08Z by Steven

Dorothy Roberts, “Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race.”

McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario, L8S4L9, Canada

Public Lecture: Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology at UPenn, came to McMaster University on October 23, 2014 to give a lecture titled “Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race.”

In her talk, Roberts examined the myth of the biological concept of race – revived by purportedly cutting-edge science, race-specific drugs, genetic testing, and DNA databases – continues to undermine a just society and promote inequality in a supposedly “post-racial” era.

Presented by the Bourns Lectureship in Bioethics and the McMaster Centre for Scholarship in the Public Interest.

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Racial divide: It’s a social concept, not a scientific one

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-11-23 17:43Z by Steven

Racial divide: It’s a social concept, not a scientific one

The Washington Post

Nancy Szokan

Most scientists agree that race is not a biological concept.

As Wikipedia defines it, in an extremely lengthy and extravagantly footnoted entry that surely has been edited and re-edited many times, “Race is a social concept used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation.”

Yet race undoubtedly affects government policies, pervades our social interactions, creates alliances and sets off wars.

We are asked to specify our race (or races) on census forms, medical questionnaires, job applications, college applications, opinion surveys and so on — and the very act of asking the question, sometimes to be answered by just checking a box, can seem to imply that there is a clearly definable, provable answer.

As Robert Wald Sussman puts it in “The Myth of Race: The Troubling Persistence of an Unscientific Idea,” many if not most people would be surprised to learn that race is a social rather than a scientific construct. In his new book, Sussman, a professor of physical anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, explores how race emerged as a modern social construct, tracing its origins to the Spanish Inquisition and its legacy as a justification for Western imperialism and slavery…

Read the entire review here.

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Who You Really Are

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-11-20 01:46Z by Steven

Who You Really Are

Council for Responsible Genetics
Volume 27, Issue 2 (May-July 2014)

Robert Pollack, Professor of Biological Sciences, Earth Institute Professor, Adjunct Professor of Religion, Lecturer in Psychiatry
Columbia University, New York, New York

Patricia Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law
Columbia University, New York, New York

“International Biosciences offer a broad range of DNA Testing services designed to provide indisputable answers to emotional questions….”

“Your story awaits – go find it…”

“Welcome to you.”

Oh the happy marketplace for genetic information! The hunt is on: From royal roots to hidden baby-daddies, to making sure you’re not accidentally related to any of those many, many Kardashians. The very definition of “ancestry” is freighted with social meaning. “Tracking” it tempts one to imaginary flights about inheritance, wealth, esteem, identity, purity of lineage – and correction! How we all long to be redeemed by such searches, released from the unfairly limited befoggery of what we actually know of ourselves. What bliss instead to follow our most deliciously arrogant, nakedly ambitious fantasies of some Mystery Me, some hitherto unspoken-of chromosomal configuration that will distinguish and redeem. Given that hunger, it isn’t hard to market DNA as a product, like cement, designed to fill in the gaps, and provide stick-um for the jigsaw puzzle of ourselves. Within that marketplace, the definition of DNA is not confined by science but rendered connotatively huge, larger than galaxies, unconfined, a universe of wildest imagination. Yearning. Cure. Immortality. Control. A golem created from the skeletons of the past to address anxiety about what will happen to the present body.

Yet the boring bottom line is that we are all doomed to be embarrassed by the vulgar commonality of our humanity. We are all alone, orphans, bastards, individuals, adopted, adapted, lost, sold down the river, rediscovered like Moses in the bulrushes. We are, not one of us, descendants of a pure untainted line…

Read the entire article here.

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