Research | Research Overview

Research at GRID is interdisciplinary and integrative, producing scholarship aimed at shifting paradigms and advancing the field.

Questions about the intersections of genomics, race, ethnicity, ancestry, tribe, identity, and difference can be best examined through research that integrates various disciplines and methods. Our research is largely collaborative, involving colleagues within and outside of Duke and the US. Here we describe some of our current research focus areas and provide links to related empirical projects. See also a list of our Journal Papers and Books + Book Sections
Race and Genetics in Society
To effectively inform and transform how societies think about, use, and are affected by race we need a deeper understanding of current concepts, applications, and effects of race. We are conducting a variety of studies to gain insight into people’s interpretations, attitudes, and behaviors concerning race.
Genetic Ancestry Testing
The very concept of “ancestry” is subject to misunderstanding in both the general and scientific communities. What do we mean by ancestry and how is it measured? What scientific, social, and ethical issues are raised by direct-to-consumer genetic ancestry testing? How do we asses and address the impacts of genetic ancestry testing on individuals and groups? We investigate these and other questions in our research on genetic ancestry testing.

Race in Research and Healthcare
Controversies over race conceptualizations and use have been ongoing for centuries and have been shaped, in part, by researchers (e.g. anthropologists and geneticists), and healthcare providers (e.g. physicians). We are conducting research to examine prevailing views of these professionals on race, ancestry, and genetics and their separate and combined roles in health and health disparities.

Gene-Environment Interactions
Genetic variations can cause people to respond differently to the same exposure (e.g. medicine, environmental agent, behavior). Environmental factors can also can also influence the expression of genes and health outcomes. Our research examines the complex connections between genetic and environmental factors, especially social factors that are associated with race.


Sickle cell disease is a global genetic condition of great interest to GRID because of its scientific and social histories, its complexity, and the enduring perceptions and attitudes about its links to race.
Researcheducation, and engagement at GRID all explore aspects and impacts of sickle cell disease for individuals and societies.
Our research funded by the NCAA is one of the first projects to generate and publish empirical data on implementation of the NCAA sickle cell trait screening program.