Donating and Exploiting DNA: Social and Ethical Aspects of Public Participation in Genetic Databases

Donating and Exploiting DNA: Social and Ethical Aspects of Public Participation in Genetic Databases

Donating and Exploiting DNA: Social and Ethical Aspects of Public Participation in Genetic Databases

Donating and Exploiting DNA: Social and Ethical Aspects of Public Participation in Genetic Databases

Synopsis

There has been a proliferation of genetic databases and biobanks which promise to increase scientists' understanding of the way our genes interact with the environment. This text looks at these biomedical research projects.

Excerpt

It is an honour and a pleasure to write the forward to this timely and exciting book, not only because this tightly-edited collection raises a specifi c set of issues about genetic databases, or addresses these so substantively, but because the collection sets an important benchmark for social scientific contributions to this field.

The rapid expansion of what might be called the social science of genomics poses a number of challenges. These are methodological, ethical, and political as well as being conceptual, empirical, and analytical. As this collection shows, the social science of genomics is profoundly interdisciplinary, not only combining many traditional areas of social science, from anthropology to economics, but also moving across into the clinical and scientific disciplines. While the social science of genomics will draw on science studies, cultural studies, and gender studies, it will also turn back to some of the oldest conceptual traditions in the social sciences, such as the debates about gift exchange, the formation of capital, or the meaning of reproductive substance.

There are a number of risks for the field due to the speed of expansion of genomics studies areas, the influx of large numbers of new researchers into the field, and the pressure on researchers to respond to so many varied constituencies - from granting bodies to policy and regulatory planners, as well as the government and industry. These are pressures the contributors to this book handle with both diligence and clarity. It is inspiring and refreshing to see the very high level of critical scholarly analysis that is maintained throughout the volume.

This is largely due to the skill and hard work of each of the contributors. But it is also the result of the foresight of the editors, Richard Tutton and Oonagh Corrigan, who have identified such an important topic, and brought together the contributors who could produce such a superb anthology. What we have as a result is a model of what we might hope to see for this field as a whole in a few years time. What this book offers that is perhaps its greatest achievement is the possibility of a comparative view. By bringing together contributors from a range of different countries, each of whom is addressing a different aspect of genetic databases, we are able both to read each

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