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Multiple Measures Reveal The Value of Both Race And Geographic Ancestry For Self-Identification

By Vincent Damotte, Chao Zhao, Chris Lin, Eric Williams, Yoram Louzoun, Abeer Madbouly, Rochelle Kotlarz, Marisa McDaniel, Paul J Norman, Antoine Lizee, Natalie M Myres, Catherine A Ball, Kenneth G Chahine, Jake Byrnes, Yong Wang, Martin Maiers, Jill A Hollenbach

Posted 13 Jul 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/701698

There is long-standing tension regarding whether and how to use race or geographic ancestry in biomedical research. We examined multiple self-reported measures of race and ancestry from a cohort of over 100,000 U.S. residents alongside genetic data. We found that these measures are often non-overlapping, and that no single self-reported measure alone provides a better fit to genetic ancestry than a combination including both race and geographic ancestry. We also found that patterns of reporting for race and ancestry appear to be influenced by participation in direct-to-consumer genetic ancestry testing. Our results demonstrate that there is a place for the language of both race and geographic ancestry as we seek to empower individuals to fully describe their family history in research and medicine.

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