University Researchers Map the Genome of the African-American Population

An international research team led by geneticists at the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University conducted a wide scale study of genotype data of Africans and African Americans. The results showed far more genetic diversity among African Americans than previously believed.

While it is commonly believed that most African Americans are descended from slaves brought to this country from West Africa, the study found that among African Americans, the proportion of West African ancestry ranges from 1 percent to 99 percent. The median proportion of European ancestry among African Americans is 18.5 percent.

The authors of the study stated that the vast differences in the genetic makeup among the African-American population brings into question drug and medical treatments that are targeted exclusively toward black Americans. Because the genetic diversity among the African-American population is so large, it is unwise to categorize all black Americans as one group and assume that they are genetically similar and will respond to medications and treatments in the same way.