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Webinar: (2019-02) Race-Based Medicine and Race-Based Research: Ethical Considerations for IRBs

As genomics and personalized medicine advance, there is increased awareness that “race” is an inappropriate proxy for groups that may share a genetic background. However, proposals are still being submitted and approved at institutions across the country that assume that self-reported race correlates with biological/genetic difference. These studies are scientifically out-of-date, as genetic evidence reveals that the difference between races is smaller than differences among individuals of any particular race. Furthermore, such studies, even when conducted with the best intentions, risk perpetuating racist stereotypes, inappropriately influencing clinical medicine, and reinforcing inaccurate ideas about biology and race. Race is a social construct, not a biological fact, and as individuals from different races partner and have children, self-reported race becomes less tied to ancestry.

How should IRBs approach the continued wave of race-based research? What criteria should they use to determine the scientific validity and the ethics of such proposals? Should institutions develop policies and procedures to guide such research in the future? During this webinar, speakers will explore these questions and more. (Presented on February 21, 2019)


  • Race-based medicine: definition, examples in clinical medicine, examples in research, negative impact, disambiguation of “race-based medicine” versus studying the effects of racism
  • Scientific argument against race-based medicine; ethical argument against race-based medicine
  • Role of IRBs: how individual proposals should be evaluated, how institutions should approach the overall question, and what guidelines should be developed

What will I learn?

After attending this webinar, you will be able to:
  • Define race-based research and race-based medicine, and describe how they are being used in research today
  • Discuss relevant ethical arguments when race-based protocols come to your IRB
  • Consider developing guidelines at the institution-level regarding race-based research and medicine

Who should attend?

This webinar will benefit IRB professionals and members who review biomedical research studies.

Continuing Education

Webinar participants holding the Certified IRB Professional (CIP®) credential may apply 1.25 continuing education credits towards CIP recertification. Learn More »