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Race, Biotechnology, and Law in the Gene Age

This seminar explores the role of law in the expansion of new technologies that incorporate race and cutting edge genomic science. There has been a recent resurgence of scientific interest in race-based genomic variation, yielding an explosion of biotechnologies that use race as a biological category. Grouping clinical trial participants by race, race-specific pharmaceuticals, commercial genetic testing for determining racial identity and genealogy, and racial profiling with DNA forensics are prominent examples of this trend. Law is a critical aspect of the social context in which race-based biotechnologies are developed. Legal rules directly regulate race-based scientific research and the marketing of its products; legal definitions of race help to determine the categories scientists employ; legal norms help to determine acceptable boundaries of scientific inquiry. Moreover, the increase in race consciousness in biotechnology is occurring as colorblindness and race consciousness compete as major frameworks for defining the proper treatment of race in law and social policy. More fundamentally, legal notions of racial equality and justice should be central to the ethical evaluation of race consciousness in biotechnology; these technologies, in turn, are changing the significance of race consciousness in law. Course Materials The seminar will use as a main text, Barbara A. Koenig, Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, & Sara S. Richardson, Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age (forthcoming August 2008), supplemented by articles from law reviews, medical journals, and other scholarly venues.


Catalog Number: PPTYTORT 619
Practice Areas: Family Law Practice AreaHealth Care Practice AreaHigh Technology
Additional Course Information: Consult Professor about writing requirements


Course History

Spring 2012
Title: Race & Biotechnology
Faculty: Roberts, Dorothy E.
Section: 1     Type: Seminar     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 0



Spring 2011
Title: Race, Biotechnology, and Law in the Gene Age
Faculty: Roberts, Dorothy E.
Section: 1     Type: Seminar     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 19