Have you heard about Human Genome Project? It is an international collaboration research programme that aims to mapping and understanding about individual genome in the world. Keolu Fox is a researcher who gets interest to this project, particularly in a sort of research named Indigenomics. For information, Indigenomics focus on improving minority health through methods that respect indigenous knowledge.
It started when he was a child, his grandmother, who had been a nurse, always told about Pastor Damien, a Belgian missionary who had spent his life to Hawaiian society in Kalaupapa, a leprosy village in Hawai. The story made him feeling curious, why did the missionary choose to be outcast in Kalaupapa and where was the leprosy bacteria from? The fact is Kanaka Maoli, the indegenous people of Hawaii, was contracted by leprosy very easily.
Interestingly, the most of genetic research was conducted to European descent at 96% and only about 4% was done to non European. Unfortunately, for indegenous it was less than 1% of research. Although Human Genome Project can possibly help people to know more about health potential, to predict and to control degenerative disease.
One of the challenges was about distrust. To illustrate, history told that in 1989, a researcher from Arizona State University had taken blood samples of Havasupai Ethnic in Arizona. The purpose was to search solution for diabetes type 2 but the samples was abused to other research such us schizoprenia. After all, the research was prosecuted and banned by the local. It gave domino effect and spread to other ethnic in South America. Facing this matter, the main point is to not make indegenous being object of research but partners. It is important to explain to them about potential of the use and misuse of genetic code.
Start from now, the experts should give more attention to conduct more diserve research about genetic especially to non European descent and indegenous to rich the knowledge of human genome. It is the key to avoid a big gap from human genetic at present and past. We do not want to lose any information about genetic code of our ancestor, do we? Then, it can be used for better life.
Related video : ted.com/talks/keolu_fox_why_genetic_research_must_be_more_diverse