comparison group who were not receiving it. (BiDil may be effective in people of African ancestry because, as a way of retaining salt in hot climates, they have genetically low levels of a chemical signal that BiDil enhances.)
The emergence of a genetically different pattern of disease and drug response in various populations has touched off a vexed argument about race based medicine. Some physicians contend that consideration of a patient's race is not or should not be a proper part of medicine. But some geneticists differ strongly, saying that the human genome sequence has now made it possible to tailor diagnosis and treatment to each population's special needs, and that it would be folly to ignore racial differences if, as in the case of BiDil, race is the key to discovering effective therapies.
Neil Risch, an eminent geneticist now at the University of California, San Francisco, was the first to say in print that the emerging view of human population structure had major points of correspondence with the public conception of race. Risch's article was sparked by his irritation at the sociologists' race-is-not-biological dogma surfacing in, of all places, the New England Journal of Medicine, a leading journal of medical research. "Race is a social construct, not a scientific classification," declared an editorial by Robert S. Schwartz, the
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