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Ancestry and Disease in the Age of Genomic Medicine

I think we spend a great deal of time developing groups. Sometimes those constructs benefit us as individuals, providing sources of sustenance and pride. Sometimes those constructs cause us to harm others by labeling those outside of the group not only as "other," but also as "less."

We forget that, despite differences based on race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, physical abilities, nationality, etc., we're still all part of humanity--and much more alike than we are different.

I don't usually blog about articles, especially not articles I see at work, but I enjoyed reading this one. If you want to see the full text of the article for yourself, just let me know.

Feero WG, Guttmacher AE. Ancestry and Disease in the Age of Genomic Medicine. N Engl J Med 2010;363:1551-8.

A couple of points of interest to me:

From page 1552:
Population-level studies have also shown that African populations have relatively greater genetic diversity than other populations and that the variation found outside Africa tends to be a subgroup of African genetic variation. These
patterns, which are observed even when comparing a relatively small number of SNPs or copynumber variants (100 or so), support a common African origin of our species.

Later on page 1552:
Many populations, such as African Americans and Hispanic Americans, have complex
recent ancestral histories. African Americans,on average, are estimated to have approximately 20% European ancestry, but this proportion varies substantially among different African-American populations within North America. More important, genetic analyses of individual ancestry show that some self-identified African
Americans have large proportions (more than 50%) of European genetic ancestry, whereas some self-identified European Americans have substantial recent African genetic ancestry.


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