Dr. Joseph L. Graves, Jr.
Associate Dean for Research & Professor of Biological Sciences,
Joint School of Nano-sciences and Nano-engineering,
North Carolina A&T State University and UNC Greensboro.
Evolutionary versus Racial Medicine: Why it Matters.
April 30, 2012
AAG008 5:00 pm
Misconceptions concerning the concordance of biological and social definitions of race are ongoing in American society. This problem extends beyond that of the lay public into the professional arena, especially that of biomedical research. This continues, in part, because of the lack of training of many biomedical practitioners in evolutionary thinking. This essay reviews the biological and social definitions of race, examining how understanding the evolutionary mechanisms of disease and human variation are crucial to addressing ongoing health disparities. Finally it concludes by laying bear the fallacies of “race-specific” medicine.
Dr. Joseph Graves, Jr. was elected a Fellow of the Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1994. His research concerns the evolutionary genetics of postponed aging and biological concepts of race in humans. He is presently working on theory and methods of computational evolutionary phylogenetics and molecular evolution; as well as the genomics of life history variation in Drosophila. The computational work focuses on an important family of enzymes, the histone deacetylase family, and their role in a variety of disease systems (and possibly even general senescence itself.)
His books on the biology of race are entitled: The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium, Rutgers University Press, 2001, 2005 and The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America, Dutton Press, 2004, 2005. A summary of Dr. Graves’s research career can be found on Wikipedia, and he is also featured in the ABC-CLIO volume on Outstanding African American scientists.
He is a member of the “New Genetics and the African Slave Trade” working group of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute of Harvard University, chaired by professors Henry Louis Gates and Evelyn Hammonds. He has served as chair of the Senior Advisory Board for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) at Duke University and is currently a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Fellow, NIH and Triangle Scholar at NESCent. He also is currently an Associate Editor for the 2nd Edition for the Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, Gale-Cengage. In 2007, he became a member of the inaugural editorial board of Evolution: Education and Outreach, published by Springer-Verlag. He has been an active participant in the struggle to protect and improve the teaching of science, particularly evolutionary biology in the public schools. He has been a leader in addressing the under representation of minorities in science careers, having directed successful programs in California and Arizona. He is a leading force in aiding underserved youth in Greensboro via the YMCA chess program.
- Race and the Genetic Revolution. Chapter 8, Evolution Versus Racial Medicine: Why it Matters. [pdf]