Mar 3, 2022

Genetic Databases Are Too White. Here’s What It’ll Take to Fix It

An article by Grace Browne and published in the WIRED web site caught my eye today. It may help explain some of the “mysterious reports” I have read recently.

Grace Browne writes:

“Would you like to benefit from the massive, game-changing, groundbreaking genomic revolution, already well underway? If you’re white, you’re in luck. If you’re not, too bad—it wasn’t built for you.

“For years, genetic research has mostly focused on people of European descent. This problem is well-known: Scientists and the media have been lamenting it for over a decade. Despite this, the inequality has actually worsened. In 2017, the percentage of participants of European descent in genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which look for genetic variants associated with complex traits such as disease risk, stood at a whopping 90 percent, according to the GWAS Diversity Monitor, an online dashboard maintained by researchers at the University of Oxford in the UK. As of this January, the percentage of European descendants had swelled to almost 96 percent. Hispanic or Latin American populations made up 0.23 percent; African representation was just 0.09 percent.

“But now, scientists are coming up with clear, defined ways to redress the imbalance.”

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