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Call for More Diverse Genetic Research

Since genetic research has overwhelmingly focused on white European individuals, people of other ethnic backgrounds might not benefit as much from its clinical application, the Guardian reports.

It adds that the University College London's David Curtis wrote a letter last year to major UK funding agencies to prod them into funding research of more diverse groups, but that Curtis found their response inadequate.

In particular, Curtis tells the Guardian he is most concerned about the application of polygenic risk scores. The Guardian notes that a recent analysis of 3,000 papers found that 78 percent of polygenic risk scores have been devised using data from people of white European ancestry. Such scores — which have been developed to estimate a person's risk of developing a range of diseases and conditions like schizophrenia or high blood pressure — are less precise when applied to people of different ancestries.

"It seems grossly unfair to me that people from ethnic minorities are funding this research through paying their taxes but are then not receiving the full benefits from it," Curtis says.

The Wellcome Trust tells the Guardian it is aware of Curtis' concerns and says it too finds the issue important, while the Medical Research Council adds it is cognizant of the dangers of applying data from one population to another and that it funds diverse population research.