Mistreating Health Inequities in the Genomic Age


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Dorothy Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law, joined the University of Pennsylvania as its 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology and the Law School where she also holds the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mosell Alexander chair. Her pathbreaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent contemporary issues in health, social justice, and bioethics, especially as they impact the lives of women, children and African-Americans. The medical profession in the United States have long defined disease and treated patients according to race. Although the map of the human genome confirmed that race is not written in our genes, we are witnessing the re-creation of race in biological terms using cutting-edge genomic science and biotechnologies, such as race-specific medicines and ancestry tests that incorporate false assumptions about racial difference. Although genetics can help find cures for diseases, the genetic concept of race misunderstands the nature of human difference and masks the devastating impact of racism on our bodies and society. Instead, good medicine and health justice require affirming our common humanity by working to end the social inequities supported by the political system of race.



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