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Race-Based Medicine:

A New Approach to Race, Health, and Society?

Date: Friday April 27, 2007

Time: 3 - 5 PM

Location: West Madrone Room on the 4th floor of the MLK Student Union


Since the release of Bidil, the first racially-targeted medicine approved to treat hypertension in African Americans, many ethical and policy issues have arisen regarding race-based medicine and race-based health care. A panel of four speakers, representing many different perspectives and areas of expertise, will introduce the shades of complexity involved with the issues surrounding race-based medicine.


At the modern day frontier of science, "race," carrying all the weight of a history that is characterized by both discrimination and nationalism, now adds on to its list the category of health. As society moves toward the reality of customized medicine, it is critical that we ask the question of how the declaration of "racial predisposition" will test, enforce, or eliminate the boundaries of our knowledge of who we are and who we can be.



Synopsis: Classification of human beings has been framed in a variety of different ways throughout history, but arguably the most powerful form of identity craft is derived from the ivory tower of science. After centuries of molding and dismantling notions of racial differences, through the eras of slavery and eugenics, the completion of the human genome project led the director of the Human Genome Project, Dr. Francis Collins, to declare that the only race that matters is the human race. However, after FDA approval of Bidil, the first race-based medicine that treated African Americans with hypertension, we once again confront the simultaneous promises of customized medicine and equal treatment. With this emerging technology, it is critical to implement an interdisciplinary approach to maximize communication among various spheres of expertise in order to make the most responsible decisions that will affect so many parts of society.


Speakers will include Osagie Obasogie, a researcher from the Center for Genetics and Society, Thalia Gonzalez, Senior Legal Counsel at the Greenlining Institute, Dr. Esteban Burchard, a scientist from UCSF, and Thomas Philippi, an engineering professor from UC Berkeley.



Attendance: This event is primarily concerned with bringing a balanced perspective on the arguments that are being made from different corners of the controversy of race-based medicineto students. The event is intended to engage students from a variety of backgrounds and majors. Whether you are a pre-law student wanting to learn about the some of the most cutting edge legal and bioethical issues of our generation, a pre-med student who might one day have to prescribe medication to an individual because of his/her race, or simply someone who is concerned about the way technology is shaping our perspective of humanity and humanness, this is the event that needs your opinion and engagement.