There is long-standing tension regarding whether and how to use race or geographic ancestry in biomedical research. We examined multiple self-reported measures of race and ancestry from a cohort of over 100,000 U.S. residents alongside genetic data. We found that these measures are often non-overlapping, and that no single self-reported measure alone provides a better fit to genetic ancestry than a combination including both race and geographic ancestry. We also found that patterns of reporting for race and ancestry appear to be influenced by participation in direct-to-consumer genetic ancestry testing. Our results demonstrate that there is a place for the language of both race and geographic ancestry as we seek to empower individuals to fully describe their family history in research and medicine.
One Sentence Summary Self-identification in the United States according to both racial and geographic terms best reflects genetic ancestry in individuals.