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About Race & Human Biotechnology


Racist ideas and practices have marred the history of science, with low points including the eugenics movement and medical experiments on vulnerable populations. Public awareness and social oversight are needed to ensure that these sorts of occurrences are not repeated.

Today, some geneticists and biomedical researchers are searching for genetic differences between racial groups, raising concerns that these biological variations may be used to justify inequitable outcomes that are created by social, environmental, and economic forces. However well-meaning, this could lead to gross abuse.

Genetic researchers have been particularly interested in indigenous peoples. Their reproductive insularity has led to a genetic homogeneity that can facilitate searches for correlations between specific genes and phenotypic traits. Many indigenous people object to this work for a variety of practical and ethical reasons, including the patenting and commercialization of genetic information, the lack of fully informed consent, the potential for genetic discrimination, and the disproportionate allocation of public funds to genetic research rather than to direct health care and prevention programs.



Racial Health Disparities: It’s Inequality, Not Genesby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 23rd, 2015A review of genomic research on racial health disparities in heart disease finds it has made “little or no contribution to our understanding.” A new article in The Atlantic puts that in social, political, and historical context.
Journalist Tells Sad History of NC Eugenics Programby John DrescherNews & ObserverApril 17th, 2015For years the sterilization program was considered a forward-thinking approach to prevent those who were institutionalized or on welfare from having children.
Genes Don't Cause Racial-Health Disparities, Society Doesby Jason SilversteinThe AtlanticApril 13th, 2015Researchers are looking in the wrong place: White people live longer not because of their DNA but because of inequality.
Calling for “More than a Moratorium” on Human Germline Modificationby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesApril 9th, 2015A broader array of critical responses and policy suggestions follows recent reports that the gene-editing technique CRISPR has been used to genetically modify human sperm, eggs or embryos.
Why Racism is not Backed by Scienceby Adam RutherfordThe Guardian March 1st, 2015As we harvest ever more human genomes one fact remains unshakeable: race does not exist.
Could 'Superdonors' Make Replacement Organs That Work In Anyone?by Luke TimmermanForbesFebruary 9th, 2015Scientists have known for years there are people in the world with a rare gift—their cells look innocuous to the immune systems of many other people. What if they became “superdonors?”
Poverty, Genetics and the White American Psycheby Tanya H. LeeIndian CountryFebruary 5th, 2015We have a history that exemplifies over and over again our contempt for other races and ethnicities based on the science of the day that interpreted them to be genetically inferior to whites.
Why There Is No Perfect Human In Puerto Rico or Anywhere Elseby Taras K. Oleksyk and Juan Carlos Martinez-CruzadoScientific AmericanFebruary 5th, 2015To criticize James Watson’s infamous positions on race, a computational biologist turned to human genome data for a tongue-in-cheek “thought experiment” to find the “perfect human.”
Two Neuroscientists Who Get It Rightby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesJanuary 7th, 2015Two UC San Diego neuroscientists have created a “Roadmap to a New Neuroscience.” It is a status-quo-shifting kind of amazing.
Pharmacogenomics and the Biology of Raceby Myles JacksonThe Huffington PostJanuary 5th, 2015Why is race the privileged category used by biomedical researchers in understanding human diversity?
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