NIH Jul 14, 2004 | R01

Advancing the Race Dialog: Genes, Forensics & Medicine

Principal Investigator(s): Sankar, Pamela

Institution: University of Pennsylvania

FOA Number: PA-00-133


The overall goal of the proposed research is to contribute to improved communication about race and ethnicity among genetics researchers and, as a result, between these researchers, professionals who are meant to apply the results of research on human genetic variation, and the public. Our primary aim is to clarify how and why researchers use race and ethnicity in forensic and medical genetic research, and what researchers think are appropriate generalizations and applications of their findings. A secondary aim is to familiarize graduate students from genetics and social science with the meanings and functions of race and ethnicity in different disciplines. Our research will include a national survey of medical and forensic genetic researchers, in-depth interviews, and a content analysis of genetic research articles published in peer reviewed medical and forensic genetic journals. Through short-term summer internships, we will involve an interdisciplinary group of graduate students in this research and facilitate among them understanding of multiple perspectives on the relationship of genetics with race and ethnicity.

A belief that there exists a single correct definition or function of race and ethnicity in genetics research does not motivate the proposed study. Nor is the intent of this research to contribute to the debate over biological phenomenon associated with genetic variation. Rather, the motivation is to address the inconsistencies of terms used in genetic variation research in order to enhance scientific validity and generalizability, and to facilitate clear communication among scientists and with the public. If the debates continue without clarification on how to resolve them within the research community, there is a real danger that genetics and medical research generally will be slowed if the public perceives that science is contributing to discriminatory ends, even if that is not the scientist's intention.




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Start Date:
Jul 14, 2004

End Date:
Jun 30, 2007



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