Geneticizing Disease: Implications for Racial Health Disparities

Geneticizing Disease: Implications for Racial Health Disparities

Event poster

Please join Generations Ahead and the Center for American Progress for a special presentation:

Geneticizing Disease: Implications for Racial Health Disparities 

April 22, 2008 10:30-12:00 at the Greenlining Institute in Berkeley, California


Jamie D. Brooks, Project Director on Race, Health and Human Rights, Generations Ahead


Meredith L. King, Health Policy Analyst, Center for American Progress

Mildred Thompson, Senior Director and Director of the PolicyLink Center for Health and Place

Dorothy Roberts, Kirkland and Ellis Professor, Northwestern University Law School. Currently a fellow at Stanford University's Research Institute of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity focusing on "Race Consciousness in Law, Politics, and Biotechnology."

Today's dialogue in medical journals and the mainstream press on health disparities in American society increasingly focuses on individuals' genetic predispositions to disease. More and more, race is interjected into this dialogue as scientists link genes of certain racial groups to medical conditions while pharmaceutical companies increasingly seek to medicate those conditions. Unfortunately, during this process the focus on reducing and preventing racial health disparities - which in large part can be attributed to social determinants - becomes obscured.

The Center for American Progress and Generations Ahead will explore these trends and their implications for addressing racial health disparities by hosting a public dialogue. Meredith King, co-author of "Geneticizing Disease: Implications for Racial Health Disparities," which will be released at the event, will provide an overview of the issue and the paper's findings. Law professor Dorothy will follow with a legal and racial perspective on the implications of "geneticizing" disease. And in closing, Mildred Thompson will discuss the known non-medical determinants of health, such as environment, insurance status, and other socio-economic factors. Jamie D. Brooks, co-author of the paper, will moderate the discussion to follow.


The Greenlining Institute

1918 University Avenue Berkeley, CA 94704

Greenlining Institute Directions: The offices are located on University Avenue between Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Milvia just 3 blocks west of the U.C. Berkeley campus. The office is 3 short blocks from the Downtown Berkeley Bart Station.

Parking: There are metered parking places along University Avenue. Parking is also available in the Promenade Parking Garage, 1936 Addison Street, directly behind our building.


Meredith King serves as the Health Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress. As a member of the health team, King collaborates with staff and senior fellows in advancing a broad range of health issues, including universal health care. Her primary focus of research is on minority health and racial and ethnic health disparities. Prior to joining the Center, King worked at the Health Assistance Partnership of Families USA, serving as the Medicaid Research Analyst. In that job, she worked with a network of Medicaid ombudsmen and consumer health assistance programs by supplying them the latest research regarding Medicaid policy in their respective states. King obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Policy and American History from Washington and Lee University in 2003. In May 2005, she completed a Masters of Public Policy with a concentration in Social Policy from American University.

Dorothy Roberts joined Northwestern's faculty in fall 1998 with a joint appointment as a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research. She is a frequent speaker and prolific scholar on issues related to race, gender, and the law and has published more than 60 articles and essays in books and scholarly journals, including Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, and Stanford Law Review, authored 2 award-winning books, and co-edited 5 casebooks and anthologies. She received fellowships and grants from the National Science Foundation, Searle Fund, Fulbright Scholars Program, and Harvard University Program in Ethics and the Professions, and as a visiting professor was the recipient of the Outstanding First-Year Course Professor Award for 1997-98. She is currently conducting research on the effects of child welfare agency involvement in African-American neighborhoods and on race-based biotechnologies.

Mildred Thompson, Senior Director and Director of the PolicyLink Center for Health and Place, holds a master's degree in social work from New York University and has over 20 years experience in the health field. She has been responsible for PolicyLink initiatives that offer solutions to problems rooted in the connection between health and neighborhood factors. These include initiatives that engage community leaders and residents in achieving policies that reduce environmental triggers of childhood asthma, increase opportunities for local access to healthy food, and improve community opportunities for physical activity.

Jamie D. Brooks is the project director on race, health, and justice for the Center for Genetics and Society and has been working to secure universal health access for a number of years. Before joining the Center for Genetics and Society she was a staff attorney for the Nation Health Law Program (NHeLP) where she focused on reproductive rights and justice for all women, implementing human rights principles into the firm's advocacy, environmental justice issues, and language access issues. Prior to working for NHeLP, she served as a law clerk in the District of Columbia Superior Court and legal and policy clerk to the National Asian and Pacific American Women's Forum. She received her J.D. from Washington College of Law at American University in 2003 and her B.A. from Rice University in 2000.