This symposium will explore the complex biological mechanisms that result in health inequities. One presentation will discuss the timing of entry of patients into the health care system with respect to complications in diabetes and how screening may help minimize disparities. Another presentation will discuss the broadening of genome-wide association studies from primarily populations of European descent to non-European cohorts and how this has expanded our understanding of the genetics underlying type 2 diabetes. Finally, we discuss data from research on the epigenetic regulation of cancer risk, more specifically DNA methylation patterns. This expansion of genome-wide association studies to include epigenetics adds insight into alleles associated with increased cancer risk in different populations. These three perspectives provide an overview of how understanding past experiences and testing can help minimize future disparities in health by addressing inequality in access and environmental exposure.