Professor Jonathan Kahn was awarded a three-year grant totaling $124,000 by the National Library of Medicine to research and write a book titled, "Race in a Bottle: Law, Commerce and the Production of Racial Categories in Biomedicine."
The aim of the project is to provide a book-length treatment of the emergence of race as a central organizing concept in the development of pharmaceuticals and related biotechnological innovations in a post-genomic age. The grant will supply funding for three summers of work to complete this book. The study will be built around a case study of BiDil, the first drug ever approved by the FDA with a race-specific label - for the treatment of heart failure in a "black patient."
Professor Kahn will situate this extended case study within a larger context of the emergence of race-based medicine and the continuing, indeed increasing, use of racial categories in biotechnological research and product development. He also will explore how the use of race in biomedicine is shaped by a complex interplay among commercial, legal, political and scientific forces and elaborate upon the complex double edge of using race in such contexts.
"Many people using race in biomedical research and product development are doing so with good intentions but without sufficient care to understanding the potential of such use to reify race as genetic and/or reinforce stigmatizing racial stereotypes," Professor Kahn said.