Standardized Biogeographic Grouping System for Annotating Populations in Pharmacogenetic Research

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2019 May;105(5):1256-1262. doi: 10.1002/cpt.1322. Epub 2019 Jan 21.


The varying frequencies of pharmacogenetic alleles among populations have important implications for the impact of these alleles in different populations. Current population grouping methods to communicate these patterns are insufficient as they are inconsistent and fail to reflect the global distribution of genetic variability. To facilitate and standardize the reporting of variability in pharmacogenetic allele frequencies, we present seven geographically defined groups: American, Central/South Asian, East Asian, European, Near Eastern, Oceanian, and Sub-Saharan African, and two admixed groups: African American/Afro-Caribbean and Latino. These nine groups are defined by global autosomal genetic structure and based on data from large-scale sequencing initiatives. We recognize that broadly grouping global populations is an oversimplification of human diversity and does not capture complex social and cultural identity. However, these groups meet a key need in pharmacogenetics research by enabling consistent communication of the scale of variability in global allele frequencies and are now used by Pharmacogenomics Knowledgebase (PharmGKB).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Classification
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population / methods*
  • Geographic Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenetics / methods*
  • Pharmacogenomic Testing
  • Population Groups* / classification
  • Population Groups* / genetics
  • Topography, Medical