Thinking about Dementia: Culture, Loss, and the Anthropology of Senility

By Annette Leibing; Lawrence Cohen | Go to book overview

6
Genetic Susceptibility
and Alzheimer's Disease
The Penetrance and Uptake
of Genetic Knowledge

MARGARET LOCK

STEPHANIE LLOYD

JANALYN PREST

I think it's safe to say we will have individualized, preventive medical care
based on our own predicted risk of disease as assessed by looking at our
DNA. By then each of us will have had our genomes sequenced because it
will cost less than $100 to do that. And this information will be part of our
medical record. Because we will still get sick, we'll still need drugs, but
these will be tailored to our individual needs. They'll be based on a new
breed of designer drugs with very high efficacy and very low toxicity, many
of them predicted by computer models.

-Francis Collins, Director of the National Human
Genome Research Institute, Time

Comments and claims, such as the preceding by Francis Collins, as well as reports about newly located genes, appear with increasing frequency in the media these days. The sociologist Alan Peterson argues that such stories are deemed newsworthy "precisely because they offer people the promise of being able to re-make themselves anew—to 'play God'—so that they can better deal with, if not overcome, the reality of disease, disability and death" (2001, 267). Because of the possibility that such stories may bring about changes in individual behaviors, Peterson insists that it is important to investigate how "gene stories" selectively present "facts, themes, and claims, and thereby help limit what can be known about health, disease, and embodiment" (267). Adding a sense of urgency to such an investigation is the claim commonly made by clinical

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