Racial Bias in Science and Medicine // Who’s Included?


I don’t think just because we’re physicians and scientists, that we need to bury our heads in the sand and act like nothing’s going on. The lack of diversity
has led to bad science. I think that the field is biased. I think that there’s institutional discrimination and biases, racism, that are ever-present in the field. I respect science. But I think that we have
significant hurdles to overcome. Minorities have
systematically been excluded from clinical research, which
includes clinical trials, biomedical research,
pharmacologic studies. That is a travesty. When we were making the
guidelines for heart disease, we developed all the
guidelines in older white men, and generalized them to women. And it was like, no duh! In 1980 we realized that, whoa, women physiologically behave differently than men. And so when we started including women, the science started changing. The lack of inclusion of minorities in clinical biomedical research
has real-life consequences. There’s a genetic test that can predict whether you’re at risk for an enlarged heart. whether you’re at risk for an enlarged heart.
A lot of student athletes get that test, A lot of student athletes get that test, because it’s part of a physical exam. And many African Americans were overdiagnosed with this disease. Erroneously diagnosed. They were told to stop doing
any strenuous exercise. “Maybe we should put you on an antiarrhythmic.” “Maybe we should put a defibrillator in you.” “Maybe we should test all your family.” And the New England Journal paper showed that many of these
diagnoses were misdiagnoses. When they went and looked
back at the genetic test, the test was really developed in whites. And the gene frequencies differ in blacks. And does not have the
same effect in blacks. And so the test was biased, and misdiagnosing lots of
African American patients. Well there are clearly racial
differences in drug response. One of the best-known
ones is for Serevent. This is the package insert for Serevent, and I wanna tell you why you don’t read it. And it’s because it’s this
huge road map of small text. But if you look here, it says that if you’re African American
and take this medication, you have a sevenfold-increased
risk of dying. If you were a parent, would
you let your child use this? We’re identifying genes and risk factors that will benefit Latino communities, African American communities, Asian communities. We know that diseases differ by race, we know the severity differs by race ethnicity. We know that drug response
differs by race ethnicity. That’s how race is involved in clinical medicine. And it’s important that we
address the lack of diversity in medicine and biomedical research. And we’re trying to do that here.

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