Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Mistrust Lingers

For some African Americans, genetic testing brings up past problems of participating in medical research, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Alondra Nelson, a sociology professor at Columbia University, tells the paper there's been a history of "scientific racism" — notably the Tuskegee syphilis experiment in the US — and because of that, she says, "[t]he mistrust never goes away."

Government-funding genetic studies and direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies are trying to reach out to African Americans to boost their representation in research, the Journal notes. For instance, the National Institutes of Health's All of Us research program aims to include groups that have been underrepresented in biomedical research. Having more data from more people of diverse backgrounds, the Journal says, can help researchers determine disease and other risk associated with various gene variations that may be more common in some populations as compared to others.

 "The more data we gather, the more we'll know about what makes people unique, which may, in turn, pave the way for more customized health care approaches for African Americans and many other underserved communities," Eric Dishman, the director of All of Us, tells the Journal. So far, the Journal notes, about 17 percent of the All of US participants identify as African American.

Filed under