Health disparities marginalize many racial and ethnic minorities within the American health care system. Despite steady improvement in the overall health of the United States, individuals within these underserved groups continue to be more vulnerable to lapses in care and are at increased risk for health problems. Health disparities have had an especially profound effect on the overall health of Hispanics/Latinos and Blacks in the United States. Genetic advances hold extreme promise, but also the potential to further increase health disparities. To promote equitable dissemination of the benefits of genomic medicine, genomic and translational research must be performed in diverse populations. Unfortunately, minority populations are underrepresented in most research, including genetic research. The negative effects of this underrepresentation can already be seen in some of the current applications of genomic medicine. In addition, the paradigm shift in healthcare may also fuel health disparities. The Conference to Remedy Health Disparities aims to learn, identify, and discuss many of the challenges and possible solutions for addressing health disparities in genomic medicine. The conference will place greater emphasis on issues specific to the Latino/Hispanic and Black communities will bring together a wider range of stakeholders who would not otherwise have the opportunity to interact and will include data that has emerged since 2008, specifically with regard to the unique issues raised by sequencing. We also plan to tie in the results of our discussion groups with extant initiatives and policies set forth by NIH health disparity agencies and publish the results of the forum to make it widely available to researchers and health professionals unable to attend the conference.
Genetic advances hold extreme promise, but also the potential to further increase health disparities. Now is the time to address this. We have assembled a forum of stakeholders to learn, identify, and discuss many of the challenges and possible solutions for addressing health disparities in genomic medicine. The results of this gathering will be published.
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