Building a Working Group
Monday 23 July 2012, 2:45pm - 5:15pm

One of the biggest challenges before us is the lack of opportunities for useful and long-term engagement with scientists. We need to strengthen our collaboration with those who want to promote the responsible use of race in scientific research, and work towards better listening on both sides.

One proposal, developed at the 2010 Tarrytown Meeting, calls for the establishment of an interdisciplinary working group that could meet for a longer period to consider:

  • how/why racial categories and continental groupings are currently used in genetic and biomedical research (including mandates by funding agencies), varying with national contexts
  • the impact of their use, and
  • how we might develop new and innovative ways to approach these research questions, so that we can move towards more nuanced and accurate categories and thereby achieve better social and health outcomes. 

At this year’s Tarrytown Meeting, this session worked to generate a proposal for an ongoing working group on race and genetics. We considered questions including: What would an infrastructure look like in order to allow for effective collaboration, across different disciplines, backgrounds, etc.? How can we better communicate our concerns about the use of race as a proxy to people who are not yet aware of its consequences (or those who have considered the concerns, and are disregarding them)? What parts of our work could be strengthened by the background and expertise of scientists, and how might we use this to encourage participation? How might an ongoing working group generate recommendations for regulatory agencies to prevent the careless uses of race we see circulating in our institutions today?

This session began with a brief discussion on the need for such a working group, focusing on developing a funding proposal that can articulate what it might look like, and the pitfalls to anticipate, as seen from past efforts. Then, we had a moderated discussion with the aim of generating a proposal.

Click here to see a full description of the Genetic Technologies and Racial Justice track.

Hartley Room