What we do and don't know about 'race', 'ethnicity', genetics and health at the dawn of the genome era

Nat Genet. 2004 Nov;36(11 Suppl):S13-5. doi: 10.1038/ng1436.


A true understanding of disease risk requires a thorough examination of root causes. 'Race' and 'ethnicity' are poorly defined terms that serve as flawed surrogates for multiple environmental and genetic factors in disease causation, including ancestral geographic origins, socioeconomic status, education and access to health care. Research must move beyond these weak and imperfect proxy relationships to define the more proximate factors that influence health.

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity / genetics*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Racial Groups / genetics*