20 April 2007

DNA: Race, genes and illness

While not specifically related to Jewish DNA, the concepts in this Boston Globe article are interesting.

The story discusses rates of premature births and gene variants among different ethnicities, drugs that work better in people of certain backgrounds, how race is defined and other issues.

"When one team of philosophers asked 500 geneticists to point out what part of a DNA sample constituted a gene, these experts didn't concur.

Race may be an even trickier concept. Are the researchers referring to skin color? Hair type? Eye shape? Does nationality factor in? "If I were to ask everyone here, 'What is race?' I'd probably get as many answers as there are people," Howard University geneticist and ethicist Charmaine Royal told a group of anthropologists and geneticists recently gathered by the American Anthropological Association to discuss race and disease.

The story was written by Sally Lehrman, who reports on health and science for Scientific American, the radio documentary series "The DNA Files," and other media.

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