Genomic databases contain a disproportionate amount of data from people of European ancestry and little data from people of African, Latin American, or Native descent, MIT's Technology Review says. However, it notes that there are a few efforts underway to try to rectify the situation.
Projects like Human Heredity and Health in Africa Initiative (H3Africa) aim to support genomic research, including genome-wide association and sequencing studies, in Africa. Indeed, GenomeWeb reported this week that Illumina worked with H3Africa to develop a new genotyping array to address genetic diversity in Africa.
At the same time, Tech Review notes the US National Institutes of Health has an ongoing study examining risk factors for cardiovascular and pulmonary disease and chronic diseases among Latinos and another long-running study of genetic risk of cardiovascular disease among. Native Americans. In addition, consumer genetics company 23andMe is also building a reference database of its African-American customers who've consented to take part in research.
However, though Adebowale Adeyemo from the National Human Genome Research Institute tells Tech Review that such tools will be a boon for genomic research in overlooked population, he says it isn't as big a change as what is needed. Adeyemo tell Tech Review that researchers have to want to and need support to conduct research in non-European populations.