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J Natl Med Assoc. 2007 June; 99(6): 690–692.
PMCID: PMC2574368

There is no scientific rationale for race-based research.


For centuries, the colonial governments used a combination of race and ethnic characteristics to subjugate and control people of color, and scientists of the day provided evidence of the "natural order of things" to support national policies of domination, segregation and control. There have been many examples of events in the past 70 years to suggest that achievements by ethnic peoples are not genetically determined and that race and ethnicity are merely terms to describe external features, language, culture, social mores and folklore. BiDil was the first drug in this country approved by the FDA for use in a single "race" after a clinical trial that enrolled only members of that race. Thus arose the question of the efficacy of doing race-based research in humans. In order for this kind of research to have any scientific basis, each individually defined or self-declared race would have to have a 100% pure gene pool, and the data show that the gene pool among whites, blacks and Hispanics in America is very heterogeneous. This makes for far greater similarities among U.S. citizens than any perceived differences, and genomic science has failed to support the concept of racial categories in medicine. Scientists involved with the first mapping of the human genome have noted that there is no basis in the genetic code for race. That being the case, there appears to be no justification for race-based research among human beings.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Cohn JN, Johnson G, Ziesche S, Cobb F, Francis G, Tristani F, Smith R, Dunkman WB, Loeb H, Wong M, et al. A comparison of enalapril with hydralazine-isosorbide dinitrate in the treatment of chronic congestive heart failure. N Engl J Med. 1991 Aug 1;325(5):303–310. [PubMed]
  • Bhopal R. Is research into ethnicity and health racist, unsound, or important science? BMJ. 1997 Jun 14;314(7096):1751–1756. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Stolley PD. Race in epidemiology. Int J Health Serv. 1999;29(4):905–909. [PubMed]
  • Caldwell SH, Popenoe R. Perceptions and misperceptions of skin color. Ann Intern Med. 1995 Apr 15;122(8):614–617. [PubMed]
  • Kahn Jonathan. How a drug becomes "ethnic": law, commerce, and the production of racial categories in medicine. Yale J Health Policy Law Ethics. 2004 Winter;4(1):1–46. [PubMed]

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