Just Biomedical Research? Genomic Knowledge as Public Hope and Concern

When:17 Aug 2017, 6pm - 8pm
Venue:Central Lecture Block 2 (Map Ref E19)
Who:Jenny Reardon (University of California, Santa Cruz)
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Environmental Humanities present a free Public Lecture with Jenny Reardon - All Welcome


Biomedicine has attempted to balance promises of economic prosperity with civic virtue: at once a global industry, site of hope for the cure of illness and transcendence of racial prejudice. Australia’s The Medical Research Future Fund, for example, aims to “transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability” http://researchaustralia.org/medical-research-future-fund/mrff-strategy-priorities/.

In this lecture, Professor Jenny Reardon draws on international research of cutting edge genomic projects in Scotland, Nigeria and the United States over the last decade to argue that it has rarely proven to be a ‘win win’ for public value and the economy. Instead, hopes to forge public knowledge and goods from blood and DNA have been constrained by limited resources and conflicting values. Reardon argues that recent attempts to augment genomic data with ‘Precision Medicine’-style lifestyle and environmental data intensify the need to confront limits of liberal concepts of openness, transparency and privacy that underpin the governance of these projects. Simplistic narratives of cures and miracle drugs obscure harder questions about not only the meaning of genomic data but also how and by whom decisions about who lives and dies should be made.

A panel of clinicians, social scientists, and health professionals will respond to Prof. Reardon’s lecture consisting of:

Dr. Orin Chilsholm (Medical Sciences, UNSW)

Prof. Emma Kowal (Deakin)

Sharif Bagnulo (Rural Doctors Network)

About Jenny Reardon

Jenny Reardon is a Professor of Sociology and the Founding Director of the Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research draws into focus questions about identity, justice and democracy that are often silently embedded in scientific ideas and practices, particularly in modern genomic research. Her training spans molecular biology, the history of biology, science studies, feminist and critical race studies, and the sociology of science, technology and medicine. She is the author of Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics(Princeton University Press, 2005) and The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome(Chicago University Press, Fall 2017). She has been the recipient of fellowships and awards from, among others, the National Science Foundation, the Max Planck Institute, the Humboldt Foundation, the London School of Economics, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, and the United States Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Biomedical Futures Symposium: Precision Medicine and Beyond will be held on the same day.

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