Racism and Race


Over the past few years, there has been increasing attention and discourse focusing on social determinants of health, root causes of health inequities, and the role of structural racism in these inequities. In these conversations, how medicine considers and engages with the construct of race has surfaced as an area of controversy. Those in academic medicine have grappled with questions such as:

  • What is the history of race in the health sciences, and how does that narrative operate in clinical practice, health research, and medical education today?
  • How does inclusion of race in diagnostic and therapeutic algorithms reconcile with thinking about social determinants of health and how they produce and perpetuate health inequities?
  • How does the current approach to considering race in medicine relate to and potentially contribute to ongoing societal narratives about racial differences and racial inequities?
  • How does the conversation about the use of race in medicine relate to the growing attention to genetic ancestry and population-based variation in genetic polymorphisms?

Event Series

We hosted a five-session series of rich, cross-disciplinary events that carved out the much-needed dedicated space to discuss the origins of the use of racial categories in medicine, the controversies surrounding its current use and practice, and future directions for clinical care, medical education, and research in the context of advancing health equity across all of the UC academic medical institutions.

Session 1: Laying the Foundation: Historical and Current Perspectives on Race and Racism in Medicine and Implications for Health Equity March 24, 2021

Session 2: Case Studies: Race, Racial Categorization, and Racism in Medicine Today April 7, 2021

Session 3: Continuing Case Studies: Race, Racial Categorization, and Racism in Medicine Today April 14, 2021

Session 4: Moving Forward: Reflections on How to Use Race and Racial Categorization in Medical Education, Clinical Practice and Clinical and Translational Research April 28 and May 5, 2021
At Session 4, small groups generated ideas and strategies for how to move forward.  These are posted on Open Proposal for review and comment.

Session 5: A Synthesis from Our Mission Area Sessions May 26, 2021

Recordings and Publication

Recordings for Sessions 1-3 can be found on their correlating webpages and below:

A book that captures the transcripts of the event series is online and may be downloaded as a PDF. 

Contact information: Stephanie Belger