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The Material GeneGender, Race, and Heredity after the Human Genome Project$
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Kelly E. Happe

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814790670

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814790670.001.0001

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Genomics and the Racial Body

Genomics and the Racial Body

(p.101) 4 Genomics and the Racial Body
The Material Gene

Kelly E. Happe

NYU Press

This chapter considers the context in which the BRCA subject is racially marked. The initial goal of BRCA sequencing may have been to serve the needs of women in what are called cancer syndrome families, but it wasn't long before the prospect of wider applicability piqued the interests of researchers. Such a breakthrough occurred in 1995 with the description of three BRCA mutations found in women who were not related. It was simultaneously an “ethnic” turn, as the women with these three mutations all identified themselves as members of the Ashkenazim. Two years later, researchers published data gleaned from a study of African American women with breast cancer. Thus, this chapter argues that a sustained look at the race concept in a specific disease literature helps us understand not just whether the race concept exists, but how it persists.

Keywords:   BRCA sequencing, cancer syndrome families, race concept, disease literature, ethnicity

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