What's Wrong with Race-Based Medicine?

Prof. Dorothy Roberts, JD

Northwestern University

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm

Theater, Coffman Memorial Union

Read the related article from the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology.Prof. Roberts discussed how the FDA's approval of the first race-specific drug has generated a heated debate about the scientific and political efficacy of race-based medicine. She placed this debate in the context of health disparities and genetic concepts of race, and explored why marketing pharmaceuticals on the basis of race is more likely to worsen racial inequities than cure them. Recognizing that race-based medicine raises both medical and political questions, Roberts rejected the dichotomy often claimed by its promoters that we must put aside social justice concerns in order to improve minority health. 

The Deinard Memorial Lecture on Law & Medicine is co-sponsored by the University of Minnesota's Joint Degree Program in Law, Health & the Life Sciences and the Center for Bioethics.

Support for the series comes from the law firm of Leonard Street and Deinard and the Deinard family.


Jay Cohn, MD
Professor of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division
Director, Rasmussen Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
University of Minnesota

Joycelyn Dorscher, MD
Assistant Professor, Family Medicine
University of Minnesota-Duluth

Continuing legal education credit (CLE) for attorneys (1.5 hours) has been approved.

The University of Minnesota is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
Application was approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit.

Dorothy Roberts, JD, is the Kirkland & Ellis Professor; Professor, Department of African-American Studies and Sociology; and Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University Law School. She has written and lectured extensively on the interplay of gender, race, and class in legal issues concerning reproduction, bioethics, and child welfare.

Prof. Roberts is the author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997), which received a 1998 Myers Center Award for the Study of Human Rights in North America, and Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2002), which received research awards from the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community and the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children. She is also the co-author of casebooks on constitutional law and women and the law and has published more than 60 articles and essays in books and scholarly journals, including Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review, and Social Text. Prof. Roberts received her BA from Yale University and her JD from Harvard Law School.

Prof. Roberts was interviewed by Kerri Miller on Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning – listen here.