Tag Archives: genomics

Dialogue hours at Cambridge Science Festival (over the internet), 7 & 8 pm tonight

Wednesday, April 19, 2017
By google+ hangout at http://bit.ly/CCTEvent
(or in person at MIT — for technical and other details, see http://sicw.wikispaces.com/CSF2017 )
7pm “Genomic citizens and misfits in a digital age”
(Discuss the promises, fears, and claims being made about genetics in this evolving digital era. What and who is to believed?)
8pm “Science and literature exploring life on the near-future earth”

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50 whys to look for genes: 50. Genomics is “promising” in a “high-speed, high-tech, and high-finance world”

As described by Mike Fortun in his 2008 book, Promising Genomics: Iceland and deCODE Genetics in a World of Speculation (Univ. of California Press), a biotech company was given rights to knowledge and its application derived by connecting health data with genomic data for all of Iceland’s citizens. As described in a review of the book, Fortun: Continue reading

50 whys to look for genes: 49. Biotech/Pharma funds it

The 1970s saw researchers in molecular genetics first argue that science progresses when free from outside direction–in the form of government restrictions on genetic engineering–and later argue that science progresses when scientists are free to receive funding (and often direction) from private corporations–including corporations started by academic researchers. In 1980 the Bayl-Dole act in the USA allowed private corporations to profit from commercializing products of research that had been funded by the government. Continue reading

50 whys to look for genes: 16. Genomics-based medical system in the near future

The man of the moment [was] J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., whose pioneering work to sequence the human genome—our essential code for life—had whetted public appetite for medical miracles in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of even the most complex of common diseases. ‘Imagine a world where families leave the hospital with their newborns and take their baby’s complete genetic profile with them on a CD-ROM’, Venter told his audience. ‘And imagine a world where your physician has as part of your medical record your genetic code, which can be used to determine, for example, your risk profile for side effects from drugs or other medical treatments. These might be possible in a genomics-based medical system in the near future’ (Massoglia, 2003).

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“What Europe can learn from the World?”

My first, mostly unscripted take of a response to an invitation to prepare a very short video where Activists and Scholars respond to the question: “What can Europe learn from the World?” http://www.youtube.com/embed/9Jn0GMweuTs I shift the question to what can European researchers learn.

Takes 2 or 3 or… are needed.  My video is far longer than the others on the current playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXGOQzlnH7jRLCQoyqIpubpBcz-FSVie8

Environmental action, Infrastructure (Day 17 of Learning road trip)

The trip from Chicago to Ann Arbor on Day 17 took us through Kalamazoo, where we had late afternoon tea (or coffee) with Lynne Heasley, an environmental historian who teaches at Western Michigan University.  She’s also an accomplished photographer and recently created a web portal for her work.  Lynne described the campaign to prevent a proposed private development on the dunes of the Lake Michigan shoreline.

We arrived quite late in Ann Arbor.  Our host, Paul Edwards, was leaving early in the morning to teach then to fly to Madison.  The conversation time was short but generative.  A side comment of Paul’s about using Splintered Urbanism in his teaching led me into his writing on infrastructure and that of Leigh Star and Geoff Bowker (see here and here and here).  Given that I have been intoning on the need for discussions about genomics to pay more attention to the social infrastructure implied by their grand claims, I need to learn more about this line of work in STS (science and technology studies).  Genomicists know a lot about building (or growing) infrastructure to develop their results, as Joan Fujimura reminded me two days before, so I need to revise my argument.

(back to Start of road trip; forward to Day 18)

Heterogeneity in science and technology studies (Day 15 of Learning road trip)

Joan Fujimura, a sociologist of molecular biology, convened a group of graduate students and a post-doc for me to talk with.  She let me know that some people had read a recent Biology & Philosophy paper of mine (but it turned out they meant my commentary on race and genetics, not my critique of heritability studies) and said “most of us are interested in genomics and complexity.  Presenting the PKU example may be good.”  I decided to try to get discussion of the implications of heterogeneity for understanding problems that concern me in heritability studies and in STS (science & technology studies) more generally.  To introduce myself, I’d connect heterogeneity with the 3-angle approach to heterogeneous (or unruly) complexity that has run through my work, that is, critical thinking about science, interpretation of science in its social context, and bringing these back into science through refelctive practice and participatory pedagogy.

In the spirit of the last term, after introducing the term and two examples I asked participants how people deal with heterogeneity, where people might be researchers in natural sciences, in social sciences, or in STS—their choice.  Contra the spirit of participatory pedagogy, my themes may have come across more clearly if I’d given a standard presentation on one part of my work.

Anyway, out of the discussion came the pertinent objection from Joan that people are building infrastructure based on new genetic knowledge and STS scholars are study this.  (This was said to moderate my contention about heterogeneity, control and social infrastructure.)

(back to Start of road trip; forward to Day 16)