More than three-quarters of the individuals who have participated in genomic research have been of European ancestry, which has led studies to capture just a subset of human genetic diversity, PBS NewsHour reports.
In a commentary appearing in Cell this week, the University of Pennsylvania's Sarah Tishkoff and her colleagues argue that bolstering the diversity of genomic studies will be beneficial to everyone. They write that having limited diversity in genetic studies could lead to researchers and clinicians coming to mistaken conclusions about the effects of different genetic variants just because they don't have all the information.
"We may be misinformed as to what treatments work and how to predict who might get certain diseases," commentary co-author Scott Williams from Case Western University tells ABC News.
He and his colleagues further write in their commentary that a lack of diversity also limits the ability to translate genomic research into clinical practice for all and exacerbates existing healthcare disparities. "This bias effectively translates into poorer disease prediction and treatment for individuals of under-represented ancestries," they add. "Importantly, studying diverse populations increases our ability to broadly understand genetic disease architectures that will, ultimately, lead to increased precision in medical care."