Research Rationale

people, Mali

Following the complete sequencing of the human genome, scientists are faced with the major challenge of documenting, describing, and understanding the non-random pattern of human genetic variation (HGV) and its link to disease risks in different populations. Although genomic data show that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to consistently identify all persons who claim membership to a particular population group based on genetic data without generating "outliers," scientists have been unable to move beyond racial categorization in science, medicine and society. Partially responsible for the lack of clarity in our use and interpretation of HGV is the fact that, although there are not distinct biological "races," there are differences in the frequencies of genetic markers across human ancestral groups. These differences, which for the most part describe continental populations (geographical distance), are believed to be key in understanding why some individuals and groups are more susceptible or resistant to disease and respond differently to medications.

The research activities at the CRGGH promise to inform these ongoing scientific and public discussions within the context of group identity and differences in health and disease. It is a scientific imperative that all human populations are adequately represented in the global effort to use genomics and biotechnology to improve human health. A major concern of the CRGGH is that the equity gap that already exists between ethnic groups within the United States and between developed and developing countries will be widened if individuals, scientists, and health practitioners from these underrepresented populations are not fully engaged in genomic science. The CRGGH strives to ensure that leading edge genomic medicine and technology consider all humans so that individuals from all ancestral backgrounds see the promise of the genomic revolution.

Last Updated: February 4, 2015