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Cooper, Richard S.; Kaufman, Jay S.; & Ward, Ryk (2003). Race and Genomics. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(12), 1166-1170.


Race is a thoroughly contentious topic, as one might expect of an idea that intrudes on the everyday life of so many people. The modern concept of race grew out of the experience of Europeans in naming and organizing the populations encountered in the rapid expansion of their empires.1 As a way to categorize humans, race has since come to take on a wide range of meanings, mixing social and biologic ingredients in varied proportions. This plasticity has made it a tool that fits equally well in the hands of demagogues who want to justify genocide and eugenics and of health scientists who want to improve surveillance for disease. It is not surprising, therefore, that diametrically opposing views have been voiced about its scientific and social value.2,3 Indeed, few other concepts used in the conduct of ordinary science are the subject of a passionate debate about whether they actually exist.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

New England Journal of Medicine


Cooper, Richard S.
Kaufman, Jay S.
Ward, Ryk