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Beyond Blood and Skin: The Global Production and Consequences of Race and Racisms

Confirmed Speaker: Rick Kittles

Rick Kittles, Ph.D., is Professor and founding director of the Division of Health Equities within the Department of Population Sciences at the City of Hope (COH). He is also Associate Director of Health Equities of COH Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Kittles is well known for his research of prostate cancer and health disparities among African Americans. Dr. Kittles’ research has focused on understanding the complex issues surrounding race, genetic ancestry, and health disparities. Dr. Kittles received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from George Washington University in 1998. His first faculty appointment was at Howard University where he helped establish the National Human Genome Center at Howard University.
Over the last twenty years Kittles has been at the forefront of the development of ancestry-informative genetic markers, and how genetic ancestry can be quantified and utilized in genomic studies on disease risk and outcomes. His work has shown the impact of genetic variation across populations in pharmacogenomics, biomarker discovery, and disease gene mapping. Although a major focus of Dr. Kittles’ work over the past years has been on measuring and utilizing West African admixture in studies of genetic disease among African Americans, presently he is expanding his research focus to further include Latino and Native American populations to further enhance the robustness of the experimental design of his research studies. Dr. Kittles has NIH-funded projects to study genetic and environmental modifiers of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in order to improve our understanding of the role serum Vitamin D plays in health disparities. He is leading a multi-site collaboration studying modifiers of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels and their role on prostate cancer susceptibility.

In 2010 Dr. Kittles was named in Ebony magazine’s “The Ebony Power 100.” Ebony selected the nation's top 100 African-American "power players" in sports, academia, religion, business, environment, science & tech, entertainment, arts and letters, fashion, politics, media, activism and health. In March of 2012 Dr. Kittles presented the Keynote Address to the United Nations General Assembly, “International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.” Recently Dr. Kittles was named by The Huffington Post as one of “50 Iconic Black Trailblazers Who Represent Every State In America.”

Dr. Kittles has published over 160 research articles on prostate cancer genetics, Race and Genetics, and health disparities. 


Batai, K & and RA Kittles (2013). Race, Genetic Ancestry, and Health. Race and Social Problems 5 (2): 81–87. Available via interlibrary loan.

Kittles, RA (1995). Nature, Origin, and Variation of Human Pigmentation. Journal of Black Studies, 26(1), 36–61.

Kittles, RA et al (1998). Dual origins of Finns revealed by Y chromosome haplotype variation. American Journal of Human Genetics, 62(5), 1171–1179.
Kittles RA et al (2001). Cyp17 promoter variant associated with prostate cancer aggressiveness in African Americans. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention : A Publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, Cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology, 10(9), 943–947.

Kittles, RA et al (1999). Autosomal, mitochondrial, and Y chromosome DNA variation in Finland: Evidence for a male-specific bottleneck. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 108(4), 381–399. 

Kittles, RA et al (1999). Cladistic association analysis of Y chromosome effects on alcohol dependence and related personality traits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 96(7), 4204–4209.

Kittles, RA & Weiss, KM (2003). Race, ancestry, and genes: implications for defining disease risk. Annual Review of Genomics & Human Genetics, 4(1), 33–67.

Shriver, MD & Kittles, RA (2004). Genetic ancestry and the search for personalized genetic histories. Nature Reviews Genetics, 5(8), 611–618.

Winston C & Kittles RA (2005). Psychological and ethical issues related to identity and inferring ancestry of African Americans. Biological Anthropology and Ethics. SUNY Press, New York.

Kittles, RA et al (2007). Race, Skin Color and Genetic Ancestry: Implications for Biomedical Research on Health Disparities. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 5, 15.

Shriver, MD & Kittles, RA (2008). Genetic ancestry and the search for personalized genetic histories. in Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age, 201–214.


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