23 Oct Genetics has learned a ton – mostly about white people. That’s a problem.
The overwhelming whiteness of genetics research is holding back medicine
By Brian Resnick, Vox
In the future, it’s possible that when you go in for a physical, your doctor will, along with the usual blood pressure test and bloodwork, analyze your genome for health risks lurking in the code of your DNA.
It’s possible your genome will suggest you’re at high risk of developing heart disease. If you are, your doctor may start you on cholesterol-lowering drugs early or could also, maybe, make predictions about what other medications are most likely to work to prevent the disease.
“If people aren’t involved in the research, they may not benefit from the advances.” – Dara Richardson-Heron, chief engagement officer, All of Us
A treatment plan like this — tailored to an individual’s genetic risk — is one of the great promises of “precision medicine.” Whether genomic analysis will ever yield enough useful results to make it possible is a subject of heated debate. If it does pan out, it could be a game changer.
Though, as it stands, the game won’t be changed for everyone: If you’re not white, this new research may fail you.
If the new age of “precision medicine” is going to be equitable, we’ll have to fix this.
There’s an important lesson in diversity and genetics lurking here too. It’s not that people of different ethnic backgrounds have wildly different biology. It’s much more subtle, and fascinating, than that. We need to explore the vast range of human genetic variation: It could end up saving us all. Read more …