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Social & Ethical Implications of Microbiome Engineering Journal Club

April 19 @ 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Topic: Race as a “ghost” variable in microbiome research – continued

Facilitator:  Andrew Hardwick, Graduate Student Research Assistant for PreMiEr SEI Core.  In addition, Andrew is a PhD student in Public Administration, a Research Assistant at the Genetic Engineering and Society (GES) Center at NC State and a Fellow in Cohort 2 of the AgBioFEWS graduate training program.

Summary: In our previous SEI Journal Club in March, we had discussed the existence of race as a “ghost” variable in microbiome research. “Ghost” variables are instances where variables like socially defined race are assumed to be biological and act as a proxy for a number of variables that affect microbiome research like red-lining or environmental racism. We continue this discussion by looking at the executive summary of the NASEM Report “Using Population Descriptors in Genetics and Genomics Research: A New Framework for an Evolving Field”. This report provides multiple recommendations to replace the use of ghost variables with more appropriate descriptors. In this upcoming Journal Club we will review the reports recommendations and how we can apply them in our own work.

Open to PreMiEr faculty and scholars.  Contact Sharon Stauffer for a calendar invitation, or just show up!  Please see your emails or newsletter for the zoom link.

Link to the NASEM Reporthttps://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/26902/using-population-descriptors-in-genetics-and-genomics-research-a-new  Note:  You will not be expected to read the entire report, but please review the executive summary

Supplement to NASEM Report – Webinar Link: https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/03-17-2023/use-of-race-ethnicity-and-ancestry-as-population-descriptors-in-genomics-research-report-release-webinar

See also: Past SEI Journal Club articles and discussions

The purpose of the PreMiEr SEI Journal Club is to build a community that is exposed to and thinking about the societal implications of microbiome engineering, so that we can begin to think about ways to integrate these aspects into the technology development. Another purpose—to get to know each other better as colleagues in PreMiEr!

All PreMiEr affiliated faculty, students and staff are welcome to attend. We will start with an informal 5-10 minute presentation of the article. We will then have an open discussion about how the societal and ethical aspects in the article may relate to PreMiEr’s natural science or engineering research, work, or scholarship.


April 19
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM


PreMiEr SEI Core