Every person carries a unique genetic code that influences both normal variable traits as well as risk for disease and side-effects from drug treatment. We know that health disparities exist for common diseases that have a genetic component such as diabetes, heart disease, breast and prostate cancer, kidney disease, among others. Unfortunately, nearly 80% of individuals included in genomic studies of disease risk are of European ancestry; merely 2% are of African ancestry and 1% of Hispanic ancestry.

The lack of ethnic diversity in human genomic studies impedes our ability to fully understand the genetic and environmental risk factors influencing health disparities and it exacerbates health inequalities. The lack of inclusion of ethnically diverse populations in human genomics research means that our ability to translate genetic research into clinical practice or public health policy may be incomplete, or worse, mistaken. Inclusion of ethnically diverse individuals in genetics research is essential and requires careful consideration of ethical, social, and political challenges.

The purpose of the Penn Center for Global Genomics and Health Equity is to facilitate understanding of genetic and environmental factors influencing health disparities in the US and across the globe through interdisciplinary collaborations, partnerships, and education. These findings will be translated into public policy and clinical practice to promote health equity.

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