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People of African ancestry are poorly represented in genetic studies. A new effort would change that
Scientists are setting out to collect genetic material from 500,000 people of African ancestry to create the world’s largest database of genomic information from the population
Scientists are setting out to collect genetic material from 500,000 people of African ancestry to create what they believe will be the world’s largest database of genomic information from the population.
The hope is to build a new “reference genome” — a template to compare to full sets of DNA from individuals — and better understand genetic variants that affect Black people. It could eventually translate into new medicines and diagnostic tests — and help reduce health disparities.
The initiative was launched Wednesday by Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as Regeneron Genetics Center, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk and Roche. The pharmaceutical companies are providing the funding, while the data will be managed by a nonprofit started by Meharry, called the Diaspora Human Genomics Institute.
Organizers said there’s a clear need for the project, pointing to research showing that less than 2% of genetic information being studied today comes from people of African ancestry.