Highly Accessed Open letter

The ethics of characterizing difference: guiding principles on using racial categories in human genetics

Sandra Soo-Jin Lee1*, Joanna Mountain23, Barbara Koenig4, Russ Altman5, Melissa Brown6, Albert Camarillo7, Luca Cavalli-Sforza3, Mildred Cho1, Jennifer Eberhardt8, Marcus Feldman9, Richard Ford10, Henry Greely10, Roy King11, Hazel Markus8, Debra Satz12, Matthew Snipp13, Claude Steele8 and Peter Underhill3

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Biomedical Ethics and Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Welch Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA

2 23 and Me, Inc., Bayshore Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA

3 Department of Genetics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

4 Program in Professionalism and Bioethics, Mayo Clinic, First St. SW Rochester, MN 55905, USA

5 Departments of Bioengineering, Genetics and Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

6 Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

7 Department of History, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

8 Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

9 Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

10 School of Law, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

11 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

12 Department of Philosophy, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

13 Department of Sociology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

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Genome Biology 2008, 9:404  doi:10.1186/gb-2008-9-7-404

Published: 15 July 2008

Abstract

We are a multidisciplinary group of Stanford faculty who propose ten principles to guide the use of racial and ethnic categories when characterizing group differences in research into human genetic variation.