IGES Statement on Racism and Genetic Epidemiology

The disparate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on different communities and the protests against police brutality after the deaths of George Floyd and so many others worldwide have highlighted the pervasive and persistent effects of systemic racism. These include health inequities in well-being, disease incidence and treatment. On numerous occasions, science — and particularly genetics — has been used to inappropriately support systematic racism by offering arguments to justify social hierarchies and by poorly addressing or outright ignoring the health needs of marginalized communities. 

As an international society of genetic epidemiologists concerned with the health and well-being of all people, IGES is committed to taking concrete steps to combat racism and promote equity. These include:

— Increasing the diversity of IGES membership and leadership

— Expanding the involvement and agency of underrepresented groups at all levels of research, including study participants and researchers

— Providing guidelines on appropriate language and best practices for the use of race, ethnicity and ancestry in genetic epidemiology

— Providing materials describing and critiquing the use of genetics to support racial and social hierarchies

— Providing guidance on how best to promote fair and representative inclusion of people in genetic epidemiology