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To Address Disparities

Consumer genetic testing companies are acknowledging that their services contribute to racial disparities, Stat News reports.

In a statement last week, 23andMe's Anne Wojcicki noted that their "product is euro-centric [and] must expand to be inclusive and equitable." Ancestry President and CEO Margo Georgiadis likewise wrote in a statement that that they "have a long, long way to go to make our product experience as inclusive as it can possibly be for everyone." Stat News notes that these statements come in response to protests against racism following the death of George Floyd. 

It asked experts for ways genetic testing companies could address this diversity gap. One way, it writes, would be to increase diversity within the company's own employees and management team, while other approaches would be to recruit individuals from underrepresented groups to participate in research — something Stat News notes 23andMe has been pursuing — and to be clear on what the benefits of the services are.

Black individuals and people from other minority groups are underrepresented in genetic studies, databases, and the human reference genome, Stat News notes, adding that polygenic risk scores are then less predictive among underrepresented groups. It notes, though, that the responsibility for that lack of representation in studies isn't entirely the fault of genetic testing companies, but also that of the field at large.