Groundwork for Genetic Studies

Graphic: © Benjamin Fry, MIT  MAPPING DIVERSITY: This haplotype map shows SNP taken from 500 people, clustered in sets of SNPs. The history of genetic studies offers multiple examples of poor planning, insensitivity to subjects, and illegible consent forms. Many times, it is scientifically necessary to name the populations studied to verify data and provide context. At those times, insensitivity can take on a political tone, and the politics can halt the research. "There's an increa

Sam Jaffe
Nov 24, 2002
Graphic: © Benjamin Fry, MIT
 MAPPING DIVERSITY: This haplotype map shows SNP taken from 500 people, clustered in sets of SNPs.

The history of genetic studies offers multiple examples of poor planning, insensitivity to subjects, and illegible consent forms. Many times, it is scientifically necessary to name the populations studied to verify data and provide context. At those times, insensitivity can take on a political tone, and the politics can halt the research. "There's an increasing awareness that sometimes there are unintended political and social outcomes to such studies," says Dennis O'Rourke, a professor of anthropology at the University of Utah, who has participated in many genetic studies. "The more abuse and insensitivity there was in the past makes it that much more difficult to do this kind of work in the future."

Such concerns inform the new initiative to identify common human genetic haplotypes--the International Hap Map Project....

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