NIH Establishes New Health Disparities CenterNIH will launch a new Center for Genomics and Health Disparities to study the "many mysteries involving the interaction between health and race," the New York Times reports. The new research center, which will operate within the National Human Genome Center at Howard University, will study the dynamics of genetics, the economy and other social factors that result in different disease rates and medical responses among racial groups. According to the Times, some genetics experts "have long argued that human genetic variability is so profound that race is not a scientifically useful label," and other experts cite "clear disparities in health outcomes to argue that race matters."
Recent studies have found that scientists can use clusters of genes to define broad racial categories, such as white, black, Hispanic or East Asian. Charles Rotimi, former director of the Genome Center and the head of the new center, said, "By understanding the nature of human genetic variation, we can see how that overlaps with group identity and individual identity," adding, "Do those differences have implication to what we see in terms of differential response to drugs and differential distribution of diseases?" (Harris, New York Times, 3/18). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.