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To hap or not to hap?


Language emerged as an overriding theme at the Human Genome Haplotype Map meeting this July in Washington, DC. The meeting, sponsored by NHGRI, brought together about 150 scientists, ethicists, and industry executives to discuss the proposal to create a public haplotype map.

While method and marker density questions were debated, a major point of contention was how many populations and which ones to genotype, with arguments made for multiple- and single-population mapping approaches.

“Looming over a haplotype map is an 800-pound gorilla of race,” says Troy Duster, sociology professor at New York University and a speaker at the meeting. But just agreeing on what constituted a race or population was in question because of the various definitions possible.

Even the name of the proposed project was in play. “How do you describe this to your grandmother?” asks Francis Collins. Some initial suggestions, including the “Happy Map” and the “People’s Genome,” were tabled for further discussion.

— Ken Howard


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