Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Moving Away From Using Term 'Race'

Geneticists are moving away from using the term "race" in their papers, but the meaning of replacement descriptors such as "ancestry" and "ethnicity" can be unclear, Science reports.

Researchers led by the National Human Genome Research Institute's Vence Bonham examined the use of such terms in the American Journal of Human Genetics between 1949 and 2018. As Bonham and his team report in the same journal, the terms "ancestry" and "ethnicity" appeared in between third of and a quarter of papers published between 2009 and 2018, respectively, while "race" appeared in 4 percent of papers from that timeframe. They additionally found that continental labels like "African," "Asian," and "European" have increased in use.

The researchers say that these changes in language may reflect geneticists' realization of "race as a social category with biological consequences," but note that continental-based labels have also been criticized for their close resemblance to race-based terms.

Science notes that when the term "race" does now appear in papers, it is often in combination with the terms "ancestry" and "ethnicity," which it says could stem from the terms' ambiguity. It adds that the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has established a committee to develop a consensus report on population descriptors.

The Scan

Open Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas Team Introduces Genomic Data Collection, Analytical Tools

A study in Cell Genomics outlines open-source methods being used to analyze and translate whole-genome, exome, and RNA sequence data from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas.

Neurological Outcomes Linked to Innate Immune Features After Cardiac Arrest

Researchers reporting in Med dig into immune features found a few hours after cardiac arrest that correspond with neurological outcomes.

Mouse Study Finds Circadian Rhythm-Related Gene Expression Changes Linked to Sleep Apnea

A paper in PLOS Biology reveals tissue-specific circadian rhythm and gene expression patterns in an intermittent hypoxia-based mouse model of obstructive sleep apnea.

Polygenic Risk Score to Predict Preeclampsia, Gestational Hypertension in Pregnant Women

Researchers in Nature Medicine provide new mechanistic insights into the development of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, which may help develop therapeutics.