The primary focus of my research is to identify and address the social and cultural causes of racial inequalities in health. This goal is important for both practical and theoretical reasons. As a practical matter, the scale of inequalities in sickness and death demands research and action. As a theoretical matter, the link between race and health highlights shortcomings in the refrain that race is a cultural construct, not biology: If race is not biology, some may ask, why are there such stark differences among racially defined groups in a wide range of biological outcomes?
My empirical research in Puerto Rico and the mainland United States answers this question in three ways: (1) by examining the cultural construction of race in biomedicine, (2) by advancing the critique of racial-genetic determinism, and (3) by showing how the enduring sociocultural reality of race and racism become embodied—literally—in individual biology.