Policy ForumSCIENCE AND SOCIETY

Taking race out of human genetics

Science  05 Feb 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6273, pp. 564-565
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac4951

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Via your Institution

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Summary

In the wake of the sequencing of the human genome in the early 2000s, genome pioneers and social scientists alike called for an end to the use of race as a variable in genetic research (1, 2). Unfortunately, by some measures, the use of race as a biological category has increased in the postgenomic age (3). Although inconsistent definition and use has been a chief problem with the race concept, it has historically been used as a taxonomic categorization based on common hereditary traits (such as skin color) to elucidate the relationship between our ancestry and our genes. We believe the use of biological concepts of race in human genetic research—so disputed and so mired in confusion—is problematic at best and harmful at worst. It is time for biologists to find a better way.