In a March 14, 2005, Op-Ed piece published in The New York Times, Dr. Armand Marie Leroi, an evolutionary developmental biologist at Imperial College in London, challenged scholarly approaches that treat race as a social construction, arguing that recent research in the biological and the social sciences offers fresh evidence that racial differences are genetically identifiable. His editorial, "A Family Tree in Every Gene," expresses a more widespread tendency among certain communities of researchers to revise longstanding scientific understandings about the relationship between race and genetics.

The SSRC believes the subject of race and genomics warrants critical reflection and debate among researchers and the broader public, given its important implications across an array of disciplines in the biological and social sciences, its potential impact on a number of policy domains, as well as broader consequences for society at large. In an effort to contribute to this discussion, we have commissioned a series of short essays by leading researchers with a diverse set of disciplinary and analytic perspectives. We hope this forum will serve as a tool for scholars, educators, policy makers and students, and promote informed debate on what is no doubt one of the most important public issues of our time.

Contributors to the forum include:

  • Troy Duster, member and then chair of the advisory committee on Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) program at the National Human Genome Research Institute (Human Genome Project), is president of the American Sociological Association and has published widely on the subject of race and genetics, including the book Back Door to Eugenics.

  • Alan Goodman is professor of biological anthropology at Hampshire College and co-editor of Genetic Nature/Culture: Anthropology and Science Beyond the Cultural Divide and Building a New Biocultural Synthesis: Political-Economic Perspectives on Human Biology. He is president-elect of the American Anthropological Association.

  • Joseph L. Graves, Jr. is University Core Director and Professor of Biological Sciences at Fairleigh Dickinson University. His research concerns the evolutionary genetics of postponed aging and biological concepts of race in humans. He is the author of The Emperor's New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium, and The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1994.

  • Evelynn M. Hammonds is professor of the history of science and of African and African American studies at Harvard University. Her current work focuses on the intersection of scientific, medical, and socio-political concepts of race in the United States. She is completing a book called The Logic of Difference: A History of Race in Science and Medicine in the United States, 1850–1990.

  • Ruth Hubbard is Professor Emerita of Biology at Harvard University. She has worked and written on the politics of health care since the early 1970s. In 1993 she and her son, Elijah Wald, wrote Exploding The Gene Myth: How Genetic Information Is Produced and Manipulated by Scientists, Physicians, Employers, Insurance Companies, Educators, and Law Enforcers.

  • Jay Kaufman is an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina School of Public Health and a fellow of the Carolina Population Center. He has written a number of articles on the ways in which health status varies by race, class and other socioeconomic quantities, and has co-written an important essay for the New England Journal of Medicine called "Race and Genomics."

  • Nancy Krieger is associate professor of society, human development, and health at Harvard University. She has published numerous articles on social inequalities in health and has recently edited Embodying Inequality: Epidemiologic Perspectives.

  • Roger N. Lancaster is professor of anthropology and director of the Cultural Studies Ph.D. Program at George Mason University. His most recent book is The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture.

  • Armand Marie Leroi, an evolutionary developmental biologist at Imperial College in London, is the author of Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body.
  • R.C. Lewontin, Alexander Agassiz Professor Emeritus of Zoology at Harvard University, has written a number of books and articles on evolution and human variation, including Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA and The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment.

  • Jonathan Marks is a molecular anthropologist who teaches at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is author of Human Biodiversity and What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee.

  • Ann Morning, assistant professor of sociology at New York University, has published a number of articles having to do with race and ethnicity, especially racial classification. Her most recent work is "From Sword to Plowshare: Using Race for Discrimination and Antidiscrimination in the United States" (with Daniel Sabbagh), forthcoming in International Social Science Journal.

  • Jenny Reardon is assistant research professor of women's studies and Institute of Genome Sciences and Policy scholar at Duke University. She is the author of Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in a Genomic Age (Princeton University Press). Brady Dunklee is a recent graduate of Brown University in biology and science and technology studies (STS). Kara Wentworth is completing a bachelor's degree in human biology: race and gender and a high school teaching certificate program at Brown University this year.

  • Jacqueline Stevens is an assistant professor in the Law and Society Program at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She writes on how states establish taxonomies of race and ethnicity. Her publications on this topic include Reproducing the State (Princeton, 1999) and "Racial Meanings and Scientific Methods: Policy Changes for NIH-funded Publications Reporting Human Variation," Journal of Health Policy Politics and Law (2003).