The aim of the project is to provide a book-length treatment of the emergence of race as a central organizing concept in the development of pharmaceuticals and related biotechnological innovations in a post-genomic age. The grant will supply funding for three summers of work to complete this book. The study will be built around a case study of BiDil, the first drug ever approved by the FDA with a race-specific label - for the treatment of heart failure in a """"""""black patient."""""""" It will situate this extended case study within a larger context of the emergence of race-based medicine and the continuing, indeed increasing, use of racial categories in biotechnological research and product development. It will explore how the use of race in biomedicine is shaped by a complex interplay among commercial, legal, political and scientific forces and elaborate upon the complex double edge of using race in such contexts. Many people using race in biomedical research and product development are doing so with good intentions but without sufficient care to understanding the potential of such use to reify race as genetic and/or reinforce stigmatizing racial stereotypes. The story is all the more interesting because of the complex motivations and interests underlying the use of race in biotechnological research and product development. The primary actors in this story include genetics and clinicians, regulatory officials and politicians, citizen activists and corporate leaders. Generally speaking they are all people of good faith seeking to improve people's health, but their motivations complex and occasionally conflicting. Exploring the story through their actions and concerns illuminated the difficult double edge of using race in biomedical research and product development - bringing to light in a concrete manner what legal scholar Martha Minnow, in another context, has characterized as the """"""""dilemma of difference,"""""""" namely """"""""when does treating people differently emphasize their differences and stigmatize or hinder them on that basis? and when does treating people the same become insensitive to their difference and likely to stigmatize or hinder them on that basis?""""""""

Public Health Relevance

This project is relevant to public health because it will provide an in-depth exploration of concrete legal, social, and scientific problems related to the rising use of racial categories in biomedical research. It will devote particular attention to considerations of the promises and perils of using race in relation to emerging genetic technologies such as pharmacogenomics and genetic testing.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Library of Medicine (NLM)
Health Sciences Publication Support Awards (NLM) (G13)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZLM1-ZH-P (M3))
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Vanbiervliet, Alan
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Hamline University
Other Domestic Higher Education
St. Paul
United States
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