(NPR) — “Our genetic resources are predominantly made up of DNA from individuals who have European ancestry… So this is a bias that exists in our repositories right now,” says bioethicist Sandra Soo-Jin Lee.
Scientists hoping to get more diversity of ancestry among medical research volunteers need to grapple with the history of medical exploitation, says a Columbia University bioethicist.
It's largely based on the genes of people who are predominantly of white and European descent.
That's an issue with implications both ethically and scientifically, says anthropologist and bioethicist Sandra Soo-Jin Lee. She heads up Columbia University Medical Center's new Division of Ethics and is leading a $2.8 million study, funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute, that will look at precision medicine research at academic medical centers around the U.S. and help researchers figure out ways to expand the diversity of the genetics data gathered.