Monday, July 02, 2007

Race-based medical research baseless?

The title is quite straightforward and somewhat shocking at first. When I saw it, the only rationale I could think of that would lead someone to make such a claim is if they say that compared to individual genome based medicine, race-based medicine is a lousy second best option...also maybe given our not-so-good ways of classifying race. The journal name sounded like a pretty legit. journal, and to be fair, I've only read the abstract, but this does seem like uninformed research.

There is no scientific rationale for race-based research.

Hoover EL.

J Natl Med Assoc. 2007 Jun;99(6):690-2.

Abstract: For centuries, the colonial governments used a combination of race and ethnic characteristics to subjugate and control people of color, and scientists of the day provided evidence of the "natural order of things" to support national policies of domination, segregation and control. There have been many examples of events in the past 70 years to suggest that achievements by ethnic peoples are not genetically determined and that race and ethnicity are merely terms to describe external features, language, culture, social mores and folklore. BiDil was the first drug in this country approved by the FDA for use in a single "race" after a clinical trial that enrolled only members of that race. Thus arose the question of the efficacy of doing race-based research in humans. In order for this kind of research to have any scientific basis, each individually defined or self-declared race would have to have a 100% pure gene pool, and the data show that the gene pool among whites, blacks and Hispanics in America is very heterogeneous. This makes for far greater similarities among U.S. citizens than any perceived differences, and genomic science has failed to support the concept of racial categories in medicine. Scientists involved with the first mapping of the human genome have noted that there is no basis in the genetic code for race. That being the case, there appears to be no justification for race-based research among human beings.

1 comment:

John said...

If you look at the current issue of the journal, you'll find that the entire journal is dedicated to race-based research, and Eddie Hoover is the editor. Maybe it's cognitive dissonance?

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