Genetics & Genealogy:

Medicine, Identity, and the African American Community

With special guest Prof. Henry Louis Gates

pumzi_film
INSPIRED MINORITY PICTURES/Mark Wessels

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

10:00am – 6:30pm

Boston University Hillel House

213 Bay State Road

Boston, MA 02215

In this day long symposium, participants will examine the impact and meaning of new genetic technologies on African Americans. Speakers will explore the science and sociality of ancestry testing and health risk assessments, discussing how these technologies intersect with pre-existing understandings of human diversity and health disparities and how they give rise to new understandings and controversies.

Do the new technologies provide methods of health assessment that bypass the pitfalls of medical racial profiling, allowing for a more personalized medicine? Or do they buttress beliefs in inherently distinct races by offering patients a clear-cut connection between DNA and health outcomes, thereby reigniting biological determinism? Are the new genetic technologies to be celebrated as a way to fill in the historical chasm left by the Middle Passage, providing African Americans with a valuable connection to their African origins?  Or are they to be criticized for selling consumers a clear-cut connection between DNA and ethnic affiliation, without disclosing the limitations of the tests?

The symposium brings together leading scientists and scholars along with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, producer of the PBS documentaries African American Lives and Faces of America to explore and debate these questions and more. The symposium welcomes students, scholars, ethicists, health care professionals, policy analysts, community leaders, and individuals interested in the ways that new genetic technologies shape interpretations of human diversity and health disparities. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate actively in several Q&A discussions throughout the day including a lively closing panel.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the:

Boston University Humanities Foundation

with support from:

Boston University African Studies Center

Boston University Department of Epidemiology

Boston University  Department of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights

Boston University Department of Sociology

New England Historic Genealogical Society