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Misuse of the term ‘trans-ethnic’ in genomics research


A concerning trend in genetics is the common use of the term ‘trans-ethnic’ to describe analyses that combine or compare several ancestrally diverse populations. In this commentary, we discuss how this term is inaccurate and alienating. We propose that geneticists avoid using the term trans-ethnic entirely and that researchers across disciplines reach a new consensus about the best terms to use to describe the populations we study.

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Fig. 1: Increased usage of the term trans-ethnic in PubMed NCBI publications since 2009.


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We thank A. Bloemendal, S. Callier, A. Jabloner, E. Hammonds, B. Ogbunu, A. Price, D. Reich and P. Turley for critical reading and comments on this manuscript. L.C. is supported by an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship and a David & Lucile Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering. H.F. was supported by NIH DP5 OD024582.

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Correspondence to Mireille Kamariza, Lorin Crawford, David Jones or Hilary Finucane.

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Kamariza, M., Crawford, L., Jones, D. et al. Misuse of the term ‘trans-ethnic’ in genomics research. Nat Genet 53, 1520–1521 (2021).

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