Krystal Tsosie (Diné) is a Navajo geneticist and bioethicist at Vanderbilt University. She serves as Co-Principal Investigator on a study that investigates genetic determinants of pre-eclampsia, specifically in pregnant women, with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.
Tsosie attended Arizona State University where she received a Bachelor's degree in Microbiology and a Master's in Bioethics. She earned a Master's in Public Health Epidemiology from the university. Tsosie is currently a student at Vanderbilt University where she is completing her PhD in Genomics and Health Disparities.
Career and research
Tsosie co-leads a study that investigates genetic determinants of pre-eclampsia, specifically in pregnant Ojibwe women and collaborates with the tribal-research review board. Tsosie's team hopes that examining potential environmental and sociocultural factors will help these specific Native women in decreasing such high rates specific to their tribe. She has also focused on researching uterine fibroids in black women using genetic information. Tsosie, "advocates strongly for genomic and data sovereignty and is currently assisting a Tribal nation with instituting their own policies for data privacy, biobanking, and building research space for protecting the tribe's interests" as stated by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.
Tsosie co-facilitates the Summer Internship for Indigenous Peoples in Genomics (SING) workshop, which consists of an international set of workshops in Aotearoa (New Zealand), Canada and the United States to build capacity in the fields of genetics and genomics among Indigenous peoples. Based upon the development of its workshops, the SING Consortium published a framework to enhance ethical genomics research with Indigenous communities.
Tsosie has also spoken out about the controversy of Senator Elizabeth Warren's genetic testing. Tsosie has defended cultural and political identities that she feels are threatened when white people use DNA testing to find their blood quantum. She argues that being Indigenous more than what can be discovered in a DNA test, and those who take these tests and claim to belong to specific tribes may not be respecting the tribes' rules regarding membership statuses
In a post to Twitter published by Mashable, Krystal Tsosie stated, "to ascribe any power to a DNA-test result disempowers those Native Americans who do live according to their traditions. Native American identity is not one of biology, but of culture. And, crucially, “Native American” is a political designation that confers rights. If that designation becomes tied to a DNA test, it could threaten those rights."