Despite steady improvement in the overall health of the United States, individuals within 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. Upwards of 96% of participants in genetic studies are of European ancestry. The negative effects of this underrepresentation can already be seen in some of the current applications of genomic medicine. In addition, changes in healthcare infrastructure resulting from genetically tailored care 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, particularly with regard to policy (the theme of this year's conference). 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 recent data, specifically with regard to the unique issues raised by new technologies such as sequencing and epigenetics. We also plan to disseminate the content of the conference on the web to make it widely available to researchers and health professionals unable to attend the conference. Also, we will continue to record interviews of a selection of attendees and speakers about this topic, which we also plan to also make available for large scale dissemination.
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 made publicly available.
|Moreno-Estrada, Andrés; Gignoux, Christopher R; Fernández-López, Juan Carlos et al. (2014) Human genetics. The genetics of Mexico recapitulates Native American substructure and affects biomedical traits. Science 344:1280-5|