Human Molecular Genetics and the Subject of Race: Contrasting Theory and Rhetoric with Practical Applications in Law and Medicine

Prof. Troy Duster, PhD

University of California, Berkeley and New York University

Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 1:15pm to 2:15pm

William G. Shepard Room, Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum

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Scientists across a range of disciplines have declared that the concept of race is of no utility. However, purging science, medicine, and clinical genetics of this deeply embedded idea will be clearly difficult. Recent developments in medicine and law show the continuing power of the concept of race. In medicine, the new field of pharmacogenomics is attempting to use DNA profiles based in part on ethnicity and race to guide the development and delivery of drugs. In law, forensic science is moving ahead to use genetic markers to determine whether a criminal suspect is from a particular ethnic or racial group. This presentation examined the social and political implications of these developments and the conflict over race. 

Prof. Troy Duster

Troy Duster, PhD, is Professor of Sociology at New York University and director of the American Cultures Center at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also Chancellor's Professor of Sociology. He is a former member and chair of the Joint National Institutes of Health/Department of Energy Advisory Committee on Ethical, Legal and Social Issues in the Human Genome Project (the ELSI Working Group). He has published widely on the notion of race including the book Race: Essays on the Concept and its Uses in Multi-Racial and Multi-Cultural Societies (1995) and has published on the social implication of new technologies including articles and book chapters in "Politics and the Life Sciences: The Genetic Frontier," "DNA and Crime," "The Sociology of Science and the Revolution in Molecular Biology," and "The Social Consequences of Genetic Disclosure."