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Highly Accessed Open Badges Opinion

Categorization of humans in biomedical research: genes, race and disease

Neil Risch12*, Esteban Burchard3, Elad Ziv3 and Hua Tang4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5120, USA

2 Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA 94611-5714, USA

3 Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA

4 Department of Statistics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

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Genome Biology 2002, 3:comment2007-comment2007.12  doi:10.1186/gb-2002-3-7-comment2007

Published: 1 July 2002


A debate has arisen regarding the validity of racial/ethnic categories for biomedical and genetic research. Some claim 'no biological basis for race' while others advocate a 'race-neutral' approach, using genetic clustering rather than self-identified ethnicity for human genetic categorization. We provide an epidemiologic perspective on the issue of human categorization in biomedical and genetic research that strongly supports the continued use of self-identified race and ethnicity.