The Equity in Biomedicine Seminar Series (EBM) is an institute-wide interactive meeting that focuses on critical issues related to equity and representation in biomedical research, especially as it applies to genomics research and precision medicine. Speakers dive into the equal or unequal social implications of their work: Who is affected? How are they affected? Why? The overall goal of this series is to foster discussions about equity and inspire Broad scientists and trainees to reflect on the social impact of their own research.
The EBM series is led by Alham Saadat in the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Allyship (IDEA) Office. The original organizing committee was led by Mireille Kamariza, and other committee members included Alham Saadat, Namrata Sengupta, Alicia Martin, Patrick Turley, Alex Bloemendal, and Bronwyn MacInnis. For more information about the EBM series or to nominate a future seminar speaker, contact Alham Saadat.
Join Broad’s Lindy Barrett, Ralda Nehme, Sean Misek and MIT's Jesse Boehm as they present on the ways that genetic ancestry can limit scientific understanding and impact equity in downstream translational benefits. Lindy Barrett and Ralda Nehme will discuss why increasing genetic diversity of pluripotent stem cell models is critical for ensuring equitable and broadly useful scientific insights and translational benefits. Sean Misek and Jesse Boehm will discuss their work showing how genetic ancestry-based CRISPR guide bias can lead to false negatives in cell-based screens.
The format for the session will be short presentations by each team, followed by a panel discussion focused on challenges and opportunities in this area, and ending with a Q&A from the audience.
“Population descriptors” — including race, ethnicity, and genetic ancestry — can broadly be thought of as describing “descent-associated” groups, whose members are thought to share some characteristic that derives from their common origin. These descriptors are used ubiquitously across genetics and genomics research. However, inappropriate use of these terms, without proper contextualization, can make problematic essentialist links to biology and propagate incorrect and racist notions that discrete genetic groups exist. In an effort to address these problems, the NASEM formed a working group to create guidance about the use of population descriptors as well as an opportunity to implement substantive changes to the ways they are used. Join Katrina Claw (University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus), Genevieve L. Wojcik (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), and Anna Lewis (Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University and Broad Institute) for a panel discussion on why using group descriptors thoughtfully is important for science and society and what researchers should consider when making these decisions in their own work.
Katrina G. Claw
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Sexual and gender minority (SGM) people—including members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer communities—are understudied and underrepresented in precision medicine research. In addition to lack of funding and barriers to participation driven by medical mistrust, there are numerous limitations to standard reporting practices which create additional challenges in identifying and serving these individuals. These challenges include failing to ask individuals in surveys and the clinic about their sexual orientation and gender; focusing family studies on biological family structures; varying behavioral and identity relationships across ethnicities and cultures; and differentiating and reconciling multiple definitions of sex and gender. We further need more community driven selection and recruitment efforts for individuals holding multiple marginalized identities, particularly queer and trans* people of color (QTPOC). Looking forward, thoughtfully including SGM people in research and improving our oversimplified understanding of sex and gender and can help reduce SGM health disparities.
Assistant Professor, Herbold Computational Biology Program Public Health Sciences Division, Fred Hutch Cancer Center
Associate Director, Scientific Equity, IDEA Office