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January 25, 2006

Race and Genetic Influences on Health

JAMA. 2006;295(4):384-386. doi:10.1001/jama.295.4.384-b

To the Editor: In his Special Communication on genetic influences on health, Dr Bamshad1 attempts to offer practical advice for an increasingly contentious issue with his recommendation that clinicians use ancestry instead of race to identify risk factors for disease and predictors of treatment response. His argument that race is a weak proxy for genetic risk is an important one that raises timely questions in light of recent race-based developments in the pharmaceutical industry, such as the recent approval of BiDil as a therapy for African Americans with heart failure.2 Yet Bamshad's recommendation that a way around racialized medicine is through ancestry-based medicine offers too little in response to such a significant issue.