Race, Ancestry, and Genes

Implications for Defining Disease Risk

Rick A Kittles, Kenneth M. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

154 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Geneticists are interested in finding genes associated with disease. Because of widespread health disparities, race is a variable that is often said to be relevant in this context. The idea is that members of a preconceived "race" share common ancestry that may include genetic risk factors. Human variation has been shaped by the long-term processes of population history, and population samples that reflect that history carry statistical information about shared genetic variation or "ancestry." But race is an elusive concept and a term difficult even to define rigorously. Unfortunately, these problems are neither new nor related to recent genetic knowledge. Race is also one of the most politically charged subjects in American life because its associated sociocultural component has notoriously led to categorical treatment that has been misleading and politically misused. There are ways in which the concept of race (whether or not the term is used) can be a legitimate tool in the search for disease-associated genes. But in that context race reflects deeply confounded cultural as well as biological factors, and a careful distinction must be made between race as a statistical risk factor and causal genetic variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-67
Number of pages35
JournalAnnual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Genes
Biological Factors
Health
Population
History

Keywords

  • Disease mapping
  • Gene mapping
  • Genetics of disease
  • Human variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics

Cite this

Race, Ancestry, and Genes : Implications for Defining Disease Risk. / Kittles, Rick A; Weiss, Kenneth M.

In: Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics, Vol. 4, 2003, p. 33-67.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{928fbc4f4350408580f4fa93b9cfaf47,
title = "Race, Ancestry, and Genes: Implications for Defining Disease Risk",
abstract = "Geneticists are interested in finding genes associated with disease. Because of widespread health disparities, race is a variable that is often said to be relevant in this context. The idea is that members of a preconceived {"}race{"} share common ancestry that may include genetic risk factors. Human variation has been shaped by the long-term processes of population history, and population samples that reflect that history carry statistical information about shared genetic variation or {"}ancestry.{"} But race is an elusive concept and a term difficult even to define rigorously. Unfortunately, these problems are neither new nor related to recent genetic knowledge. Race is also one of the most politically charged subjects in American life because its associated sociocultural component has notoriously led to categorical treatment that has been misleading and politically misused. There are ways in which the concept of race (whether or not the term is used) can be a legitimate tool in the search for disease-associated genes. But in that context race reflects deeply confounded cultural as well as biological factors, and a careful distinction must be made between race as a statistical risk factor and causal genetic variables.",
keywords = "Disease mapping, Gene mapping, Genetics of disease, Human variation",
author = "Kittles, {Rick A} and Weiss, {Kenneth M.}",
year = "2003",
doi = "10.1146/annurev.genom.4.070802.110356",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "4",
pages = "33--67",
journal = "Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics",
issn = "1527-8204",
publisher = "Annual Reviews Inc.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Race, Ancestry, and Genes

T2 - Implications for Defining Disease Risk

AU - Kittles, Rick A

AU - Weiss, Kenneth M.

PY - 2003

Y1 - 2003

N2 - Geneticists are interested in finding genes associated with disease. Because of widespread health disparities, race is a variable that is often said to be relevant in this context. The idea is that members of a preconceived "race" share common ancestry that may include genetic risk factors. Human variation has been shaped by the long-term processes of population history, and population samples that reflect that history carry statistical information about shared genetic variation or "ancestry." But race is an elusive concept and a term difficult even to define rigorously. Unfortunately, these problems are neither new nor related to recent genetic knowledge. Race is also one of the most politically charged subjects in American life because its associated sociocultural component has notoriously led to categorical treatment that has been misleading and politically misused. There are ways in which the concept of race (whether or not the term is used) can be a legitimate tool in the search for disease-associated genes. But in that context race reflects deeply confounded cultural as well as biological factors, and a careful distinction must be made between race as a statistical risk factor and causal genetic variables.

AB - Geneticists are interested in finding genes associated with disease. Because of widespread health disparities, race is a variable that is often said to be relevant in this context. The idea is that members of a preconceived "race" share common ancestry that may include genetic risk factors. Human variation has been shaped by the long-term processes of population history, and population samples that reflect that history carry statistical information about shared genetic variation or "ancestry." But race is an elusive concept and a term difficult even to define rigorously. Unfortunately, these problems are neither new nor related to recent genetic knowledge. Race is also one of the most politically charged subjects in American life because its associated sociocultural component has notoriously led to categorical treatment that has been misleading and politically misused. There are ways in which the concept of race (whether or not the term is used) can be a legitimate tool in the search for disease-associated genes. But in that context race reflects deeply confounded cultural as well as biological factors, and a careful distinction must be made between race as a statistical risk factor and causal genetic variables.

KW - Disease mapping

KW - Gene mapping

KW - Genetics of disease

KW - Human variation

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0242440979&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0242440979&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1146/annurev.genom.4.070802.110356

DO - 10.1146/annurev.genom.4.070802.110356

M3 - Article

VL - 4

SP - 33

EP - 67

JO - Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics

JF - Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics

SN - 1527-8204

ER -