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Wrestling with genomics, race and medicine

On March 27 and 28 a group of 30 of the world's leading experts on race, genomics and clinical medicine - philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, epidemiologists, clinical geneticists and public health researchers - gathered at the LSE for a two day symposium organised by BIOS and CPNSS together with REG and funded by the Wellcome Trust. Under the title 'Human Genomic Diversity and Biomedical Practice', the intensive discussion focused on key issues such as how human biological diversity is conceived and researched in medicine and whether biomedical genomics research should proceed along 'race/ethnicity' classifications. Participants came from the USA, Canada, Iceland, France, the UK and China, and the cross-national similarities and differences in the politics of race and genomics proved particularly enlightening. Key issues debated included the usefulness of race categories for developing and delivering biomedical research, the understanding(s) of terms like 'race', 'ethnicity' and 'ancestry' across borders and disciplines, and how genomic research is shaping current and future notions of human identity. The outcome will be a set of recommendations to the Wellcome Trust as to the priorities for future research in this area, the ways in which these issues should be dealt with in research protocols and reports, and the range of expertise needed to address these issues. A full report will be available soon on the BIOS and CPNSS websites, and future events are in the planning stage.

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