Difficult Conversations Podcast

Lessons I Learned as an ICU Physician

Episode 167 | March 14, 2022

The Problem with Raced Based Medicine

Dorothy Roberts

Acclaimed Scholar of Race, Gender and the Law

Dorthy Roberts

Welcome to Difficult Conversations with Dr. Anthony Orsini. Today, I am are honored to have another amazing guest. Our guest today is Dorothy Roberts, who is the George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School where she holds the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights. She’s also the founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science, & Society. Dorothy is the author of several award-winning books including, Killing the Black Body, Shattered Bonds, Fatal Invention, and Torn Apart, coming out soon. Recent recognitions of her work include 2019 Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees at Rutgers University, 2017 election to the National Academy of Medicine, 2016 Society of Family Planning Lifetime Achievement Award. Her TED talk on, “The problem with race-based medicine.” has had over 1 million views.

Dr Roberts tells us about her background, growing up in Chicago and how she pursued her interest in social justice. We learn what race-based medicine is and why it is such a big problem. Dorothy shares a story about a clinical trial she participated in and why it seemed so unscientific to use race as a variable. We find out who Dr. Samuel Cartwright was, and why he is so important to understanding the role that racial medicine has played over time in America. Dorothy discusses the impact that diagnostic tools being used in medicine today that use automatic race correction have for black patients based on false assumptions. We learn why it is so important when speaking to medical students and physicians to ask why they are using race when they should be looking at genetics. We discuss her book, Fatal Invention, that is used by incoming medical students across the country, as well as her new book coming out in April, Torn Apart, which is about racism in the child welfare system.

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