http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/10/ma...tml?oref=login

Imagine that you have heart failure. What can medicine do for you? It depends: are you white or black? If you're white, your doctor may prescribe one of the drugs that seem to ease the symptoms, maybe a beta-blocker or an ACE inhibitor. And if you're black, your doctor may still prescribe those drugs, but they might not really help.

That's about to change. In the not-too-distant future, if you're black and have heart failure, drug-company researchers predict you'll be able to go to the doctor and walk out with a prescription tailor-made for you. Well, not tailor-made, exactly, but something that seems to work in people a lot like you. Well, not a lot like you, exactly, except that they're black, too. In this not-too-distant future, if you're black, your doctor will be able to prescribe BiDil, the first drug in America that's being niche-marketed to people of a particular race -- our first ethnic medicine. . .

. . .In two weeks, a major scientific journal, Nature Genetics, will publish a special issue on the genetics of race. This comes on the heels of several conferences on the subject, most recently one held last Monday by Johns Hopkins University, as well as editorials in the science press, including one in the Journal of the American Medical Association just last week. All of these forums pose some thorny questions: Can genes tell us anything meaningful about race, beyond the obvious connection to things like skin color? Do the races differ biologically in terms of drug response or disease susceptibility? Can genes say anything about how ''race'' -- which is itself all but impossible to define -- is related to complex traits like behavior and intelligence?