An article in The Nation, "What’s Killing America’s Black Infants?" provides a sobering analysis of the disproportionately high death rate among African-American babies. Despite decades of interventions and public health initiatives, the racial infant mortality gap actually grew during the 1980s and 90s: during that time, "Black women who received prenatal care starting in the first trimester were still losing children at higher rates than white women who never saw a doctor during their pregnancies." This led to research into whether black women have a genetic predisposition to poor birth outcomes, which was largely disproven. However, more recently, "a growing body of evidence points to racial discrimination, rather than race itself, as the dominant factor in explaining why so many black babies are dying." The article profiles efforts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which has one of the worst infant-mortality rates of all US cities, to reverse the trend.
This funding encompasses work on two related projects addressing cutting-edge issues posed by the latest advances in biomedical science in the linked domains of genomics and reproductive technologies. Both raise high-profile issues of immediate concern to federal and state government, scientists, and physicians. Both projects address how legal and ethical obligations to those who are most vulnerable (participants in genomic research and children produced using reproductive technologies) should fundamentally change policy and practice.