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The distinct impacts of race and genetic ancestry on health

Genetic ancestry affects human health, but this is distinct from the impact of race, a social construct that has its foundations in systemic racism. These terms need to be better defined and understood in medical research to achieve health equity.

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Fig. 1: Influences of race and genetic ancestry on human health.


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This work was supported in part by Department of Defense award CDMRP-PC181013 and Prostate Cancer Foundation (K.Y.); National Cancer Institute grant P20-CA233255 (K.Y. and T.R.R.); Jean Perkins Foundation, STOP Cancer Foundation, National Cancer Institute and Specialized Programs of Research Excellence grant P50 CA092131 and Prostate Cancer Foundation Challenge Award 17CHAL04 (I.P.G.); and National Institutes of Health (K08CA215312), Burroughs Wellcome Foundation (1017184), Basser Center for BRCA at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation (K.M.).

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All authors were involved in the development of the concepts presented in this Comment and contributed to writing and editing of the content.

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Correspondence to Timothy R. Rebbeck.

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Competing interests

T.R.R.’s wife is a consultant to AstraZeneca. All other authors declare no competing interests.

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Rebbeck, T.R., Mahal, B., Maxwell, K.N. et al. The distinct impacts of race and genetic ancestry on health. Nat Med 28, 890–893 (2022).

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