Statement by American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) President Gail Jarvik Regarding Research Published in AJHG on Evolving Use of Ancestry, Ethnicity, and Race in Genetics Research

Published: Wednesday, December 2, 2021, 11:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time

Media Contact: Kara Flynn, 202.257.8424,

ROCKVILLE, MD – “As genetics and genomics research advances to benefit all people, ASHG welcomes important research findings raised by Byeon et al in the article ‘Evolving Use of Ancestry, Ethnicity, and Race in Genetics Research – a Survey Spanning Seven Decades,’ appearing in this month’s edition of the American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG), the official journal of the Society. The study looked at the historical and contemporary use of the terms ‘ancestry,’ ‘race’ and other population labels used in AJHG from 1949 to 2018, as one metric of the broader field’s methods. It notes shifts over time and concludes that continued reflection is critical to the field’s ability to accurately describe human genetic variation and to adopt new genomic methods in ways that incorporate the valuable diversity of human populations.

As publications with editorial independence, ASHG journals are and should be vital homes for rigorous and honest discussion of research findings and methods, and also reflections on field history. Their contents are also useful vehicles to see progress in a scientific field over time, such as growing recognition in the research community regarding population groupings and terminology.  Today, the Society recognizes and speaks out against the misuse of genetics concepts to feed racism and knows that the genetics field and larger scientific enterprise have essential unfinished work to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion in our research agenda.  ASHG looks forward to advancing the extraordinary promise of genetics to improve and save lives while also engaging our membership in ongoing discussion about our history and our future through the Society’s scientific forums and projects.”

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About the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)

Founded in 1948, the American Society of Human Genetics is the primary professional membership organization for human genetics specialists worldwide. Its nearly 8,000 members include researchers, academicians, clinicians, laboratory practice professionals, genetic counselors, nurses, and others with an interest in human genetics. The Society serves scientists, health professionals, and the public by providing forums to: (1) share research results through the ASHG Annual Meeting and in The American Journal of Human Genetics and Human Genetics and Genomics Advances; (2) advance genetic research by advocating for research support; (3) educate current and future genetics professionals, health care providers, advocates, policymakers, educators, students, and the public about all aspects of human genetics; and (4) promote genetic services and support responsible social and scientific policies. For more information, visit:

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