Race, Ethnicity, Ancestry, and Pharmacogenetics
Pharmacogenetics is the study of how genetic variation influences the response to drugs. The concepts of race, ethnicity, and ancestry have long had a strong influence on pharmacogenetic discovery and on our understanding of population-level differences in drug response. The primary goal of pharmacogenetics, however, is to identify the individual genetic determinants of drug activity so that therapy can be tailored to the individual patient. This article describes the relationship between the concepts of race, ethnicity, and ancestry and how these concepts have been applied to pharmacogenetics, and it provides examples of the benefits and pitfalls associated with the use of racial or ethnic labels in genetic studies. The future of pharmacogenetics, including the study of rare genetic variation and what this means for racial or ethnic disparities in pharmacogenetic discovery, is also discussed.
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