Race in Research and Healthcare

Race is often used as a proxy for genetics. Researchers and healthcare providers frequently do not make a distinction between race as a social construct and the biological consequences of social races, such as health disparities. We seek to provide a clearer understanding of human variation.

Cardiologists’ Use of BiDil and Perspectives on Race in Clinical Practice

Goal: Utilize BiDil as a prototype for developing and advancing an ethical framework for the use of race and ancestry in research and clinical practice.

Collaborators: Shawneequa Callier, Brooke Cunningham, Perry Payne

Funder: Greenwall Foundation

Decisions about whether or how to use race and ancestry in biomedical research and clinical practice are not made in isolation. They occur within a complex web comprising academic, scientific, commercial, political, economic, regulatory, clinical, and other forces. Each of these forces is guided by its own interests and ethics, resulting in a complicated balancing act during decision-making processes.

The 2005 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the drug BiDil to treat heart failure in self-identified black patients has generated much controversy, and has catapulted the race and biology/race and genetics discourse into the emerging arenas of translational research and precision medicine. The story of BiDil, with its unique combination of players and ethical dilemmas, serves as a useful template for exploring and addressing a broad range of questions about race in research and healthcare.


Perspectives of Anthropologists and Geneticists on Race, Ancestry, and Genetics

Goal: Understand how anthropologists and geneticists think about and use concepts of race, genetics, and ancestry. 

Collaborators: Michael Bamshad, Tanya Harrell, Jennifer Wagner, Joon-Ho Yu

Funder: Greenwall Foundation

Anthropologists and geneticists have been at the forefront of academic research and discourse about the concept and meaning of race in humans. As such, these disciplines have a critical role to play in public understanding of race.

While assumptions have been made about the collective messages from these fields concerning race, there have been no large-scale assessment of the views of the scientists, scholars, and practitioners in these fields and the levels of agreement or disagreement between and within them.

The objective of this project is to determine the perspectives, attitudes, and experiences of anthropologists and geneticists concerning the relationships between race, ancestry and genetics in science, medicine, and society. The study also assesses their views on common statements about race.