Two women in lab coats that have been decorated with fabric markers and ribbons, holding up signs. Only one is visible, and is titled "Ability & Neurodivergence"

Commitment to Diversity

Uncovering the mysteries of the human genome and its applications will affect all global citizens, regardless of their race, class, gender, ability, sexuality, or socio-economic status. We believe that people of all backgrounds should have the chance to participate in this research that has the potential to radically transform our world. We also know that more diverse teams are better at challenging standard ways of thinking in ways that allow creativity to flourish and improve productivity. Diversifying our research teams will speed innovation and allow us to make new connections and discoveries for the benefit of our health and our planet. 

For these reasons, we are committed to fostering diversity. We strive to involve and include all people in genomics research, and provide an equitable environment so that everyone has the support they need to thrive and contribute to the advancement of the field. As a community of scientists, we are committed to pursuing a greater understanding of the entirety of our diverse human genome and the consequences of this knowledge. We are actively concerned about the ethical, social and legal implications of genomics research and committed to making the results of our research as available as possible while still protecting sensitive data.

As a community of scientists, students and staff who are dedicated to genomics research, we have a responsibility to accurately represent human genetics research, educate the public, and aggressively dispute pseudoscientific theories of racism. Genomics has demonstrated that there is no biological basis for race. Race, as we understand it today, is a social construct.We reject all racist ideologies, especially those claiming to be scientific, and we are committed to combating the disinformation that links genetics to race. 

The construct of race, as we understand it today, was developed in the 1600s2and based on false notions that made sweeping generalizations about different groups of people. These generalizations were used to support abhorrent practices such as the enslavement of people. The desire to maintain these “us” and “them” divisions continued to fuel the exercise of dividing humanity into various racial categories. This “scientific racism” persisted into the 20th century with the eugenics movement that was used to build public support for such horrors as the Holocaust in Germany and mass sterilization programs in the United States. The determination of who belongs to which race was and is socially defined, and has no basis in science.

Modern genetic sequencing has helped reveal just how flawed these shortcuts are — people within the same “race” may be more distantly related to each other than people of different “races,” for example.3 Genetic variation does not fall neatly along the socially constructed lines of race or other categorization. While some versions of some genes are more frequent in populations from specific geographic regions or ethnic groups, human genetic variation is on a continuum, and we are far more alike than different.4,5,6

We state here unequivocally that the work of human genetic diversity programs, such as the Human Pan-Genome Reference and the 1000 Genomes Project, must not be misused and misunderstood to support white supremacist or other racist ideas. The purpose of these projects is to catalog global genetic diversity, not to group people into arbitrary racial categories. Understanding global genetic diversity has important medical implications that can affect health outcomes. As an example, there are genetic differences that may change the effects of a given dose of a drug on specific people, but these differences are not tied to skin color, social group, or cultural heritage. 

Racism and structural racism can have significant impact on the health, economic and educational opportunity of racially-defined minoritized groups. Science does not support the categorization of people into “races,” and we feel it is critical to disavow racist practices grounded in pseudoscience.

For further reading we recommend: ASHG Denounces Attempts to Link Genetics and Racial Supremacy:

Already, our knowledge of the human genome is giving us powerful new tools to fight disease. As this science advances, cures for many gene-linked illnesses will be discovered thanks to targeted therapeutic approaches. We are beginning to identify certain portions of the human genome that are linked with specific diseases, and that knowledge will hopefully enable early intervention and more effective treatments.

Mixed with all this promise, however, are also legitimate fears about the use of genetic engineering to select certain qualities for our children. Disability rights activists have raised concerns that labeling some genes as “good” and “normal” and selecting for them over others that are labeled as “defective” or “bad” can lead to further stigmatization and devaluing of people who are living with disabilities. Keeping the ethical, social, moral and legal implications of genomics research at the forefront will allow society to enact policies and legislation to protect both the rights and lives of future generations.

It is for these reasons that the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute supports diversity in scholarship. Our Genomics Institute Office of Diversity (GIOD) supports and empowers first generation, low-income, and minority-identified  students in the field of genomics by granting them scholarships, hands-on research training, and career development resources. The mission of the GIOD is to contribute to learning and research communities that welcome, support, and celebrate differences. Recent graduates of our programs have gone on to careers in biotech and joined prestigious graduate programs at institutions such as UC San Francisco, University of Washington, UCLA, Yale, and Harvard. In recognition of UCSC’s status as an Hispanic Serving Institution, the GIOD is intentional in being inclusive of our Latinx community, but diversity does not stop there.  Our overarching mission is to make genomics research a diverse and inclusive space that welcomes participants of all economic, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds and identities. We work with local schools to outreach to students at national conferences hosted by SACNASSHPENSBE and SWE and through programs such as MESACAMPMARC NIHMARC UCSCMBRS BenefitsIMSD NIHIMSD UCSC,  MEPACE and ACCESS.

We are also interested in increasing public awareness of the potential benefits and risks of genomics research. We offer talks about our research and tours of our research spaces to local schools and community organizations. Please contact us for more information.

We strive to be a safe and equitable place to work for all of our students, staff, and faculty. Your supervisor, mentor, members of the Genomics Institute Diversity Committee, or our anonymous feedback form are potential avenues for communicating concerns internally. If you are looking for an external reporting mechanism or have a conflict that you don’t know how to resolve, there are confidential ways to informally get help and/or make a formal report. Get information about reporting biasharassment, and discrimination at UC Santa Cruz, and find help with conflict at the campus complaint resolution web page.


1. Fuentes, A., Ackermann, R. R., Athreya, S., Bolnick, D., Lasisi, T., Lee, S. H., … & Nelson, R. (2019). A

APA statement on race and racism. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 169(3), 400-402.

2. One of the first “academic” divisions of people into different races was done by Francois Bernier in 1684, who claimed that people could be divided into four “races.” Dividing humanity into various racial categories was a relatively common academic exercise from the 18th century until the mid-20th century (Christoph Meiners in 1785, de Gobineau in 1853, William Ripley in 1899, Madison Grant in 1916, the early 20th century eugenics movement that influenced racist programs in America and Nazi Germany, etc).

3. Ning Yu, Feng-Chi Chen, Satoshi Ota, Lynn B Jorde, Pekka Pamilo, Laszlo Patthy, Michele Ramsay, Trefor Jenkins, Song-Kun Shyue, Wen-Hsiung Li, “Larger Genetic Differences Within Africans Than Between Africans and Eurasians,” Genetics, Volume 161, Issue 1, 1 May 2002, Pages 269–274,

4. “Much of human DNA is very similar to even more remote ancestors: reptiles, invertebrates, and even plants. All living things share many functions (e.g., respiration) going back to a very distant past. Most of our DNA determines that we are human, rather than determining how we are different from any other person. So it is not so surprising that the DNA of any two human beings is 99.9 percent identical.” James Franklin Crow, “Unequal by nature: a geneticist’s perspective on human differences”, Daedalus, Winter, 2002. link

5. Aravinda Chakravarti,”Perspectives on Human Variation through the Lens of Diversity and Race”, Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. Volume 7, Issue 9, 2015 Sept 2015

6. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Using Population Descriptors in Genetics and Genomics Research: A New Framework for an Evolving Field. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Last modified: May 08, 2024