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Open Access Commentary

The A's, G's, C's, and T's of health disparities

Edward Ramos and Charles Rotimi*

Author Affiliations

Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, 12 South Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892-5635, USA

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BMC Medical Genomics 2009, 2:29  doi:10.1186/1755-8794-2-29

Published: 22 May 2009

Abstract

In order to eliminate health disparities in the United States, more efforts are needed to address the breadth of social issues directly contributing to the healthy divide observed across racial and ethnic groups. Socioeconomic status, education, and the environment are intimately linked to health outcomes. However, with the tremendous advances in technology and increased investigation into human genetic variation, genomics is poised to play a valuable role in bolstering efforts to find new treatments and preventions for chronic conditions and diseases that disparately affect certain ethnic groups. Promising studies focused on understanding the genetic underpinnings of diseases such as prostate cancer or beta-blocker treatments for heart failure are illustrative of the positive contribution that genomics can have on improving minority health.