Prevalence of Jews as subjects in genetic research: Figures, explanation, and potential implications

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Geneticists' view of 'population isolates' as bearing special utility for research often translates into the targeting of such groups as study popuations. This paper aims to outline the prevalence and structure of reference to one such group-that of the Jews-in genetic research publications. The paper uses three prevalence scores, calculated on the basis of a search of the PubMed database, conducted in September-October 2002. A systematic comparison to other population groups shows that in relation to the population size and in relation to the general bioscientific reference to this group, Jews are over-represented in human genetic literature, particularly in mutation-related contexts. This pattern is interpreted as representing geneticists' interest in Jewish communities, which are comparatively endogamous yet sizeable. It is also attributed to geneticists' access to Jewish communities, which is facilitated by the participation of Jewish scientists that alleviates ethical concerns as well. The geographical proximity of the largest Jewish communities to major research centers, and previous acquaintance with the genetic paradigm that many Jewish persons possess, further enhance this trend. The paper ends by pointing at potential extra-medical implications of this increased prevalence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A
Volume130 A
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2004


  • Endogamy
  • Genetics
  • Jews
  • Mutations
  • Vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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