Genetic Tests: Knowledge, Practice and Use

Biomedical Transformations of Life:
Knowledge, Learning and the Rise of Biocitizens

A Collaborative Series of International Seminars and Workshops Jointly Organized by the Genetics and Democracy (GaD) Network, Lund University and the Learning and Media Technology Studio (LETStudio), University of Gothenburg

Invited Speakers and Programme:

Pufendorf Institute, Lund University, 17th December 2010

14:15-15:15: Professor Aad Tibben, Leiden University
Predictive Genetic Testing: What Do We Know About the Impact?
15:15-15:45: Coffee
15:45-16:45: Dr. Pascal Borry, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Genes and the Internet: Possibility, Threat or Actual Change?
16:45-17:30: Concluding discussion

Background
Contemporary biomedicine is asking us to imagine life, community and biology anew. It is encouraging us to recognize nature and culture as no longer divided, and our minds and bodies as both clearly open and susceptible to intentional and unintentional modification and change. By envisioning our lives as ever more firmly placed in our own hands, biomedicine is also recommending that we abandon our conventional understanding of health as nothing more than the experience of freedom from illness and injury. Given the new diagnostic tools and monitoring devices biomedicine is making available to us, healthiness is translating into a question of calculable risk of illness. Knowledge of our susceptibility to illness is something that all of us are increasingly expected to demand and feel obliged to command. A crucial technology within this pattern of development are genetic tests, and our first seminar in the series Biomedical Transformations of Life will be devoted to genetic tests and their various implications for the individual, the health-care system and society. One issue that will be awarded special focus is that of Direct-to Consumer Genetic Testing (genetic tests that are obtainable through the Internet) a development that has given rise to added controversy.

Professor Aad Tibben is attached to the Centre for Human and Clinical Genetics at Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands. He is a leading researcher on the psychosocial aspects of genetics, and has an extensive experience of investigating various aspects of predictive genetic testing such as the psychological implications for the individual taking the test including personal reactions to test results; the impact of testing on the family system, and the level of uptake of genetic tests.

Dr. Pascal Borry holds a PhD in social health sciences from the K.U. Leuven (Faculty of Medicine) in Belgium and has been investigating the social aspects of genetics, including genetic testing among minors, publication ethics and gene banks. Dr. Borry will concentrate on direct-to-consumer genetic testing in his talk.

Biomedical Transformations of Life:
Knowledge, Learning and the Rise of Biocitizens

A Collaborative Series of International Seminars and Workshops Jointly Organized by the Genetics and Democracy (GaD) Network, Lund University and the Learning and Media Technology Studio (LETStudio), University of Gothenburg

Contemporary biomedicine is asking us to imagine life, community and biology anew. It is encouraging us to recognize nature and culture as no longer divided, and our minds and bodies as both clearly open and susceptible to intentional and unintentional modification and change. By envisioning our lives as ever more firmly placed in our own hands, biomedicine is also recommending that we abandon our conventional understanding of health as nothing more than the experience of freedom from illness and injury. We are being asked to re-envisage health as no longer that normal state doctors are tasked with restoring their patients to, but rather an ideal condition that all of us are expected to continually aspire to, both individually as well as in evolving therapeutic alliance with others. Given the new diagnostic tools and monitoring devices biomedicine is making available to us, healthiness is translating into a question of calculable risk of illness. Knowledge of our susceptibility to illness is something that all of us are increasingly expected to demand and feel obliged to command. Thus, as human powers of intervention into vital processes of life and death appear on the verge of unlimited expansion, so responsibility for measuring and managing the risks of pathology appears subject to pervasive redistribution.

This seminar and workshop series establishing collaboration between two cross-faculty networks at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg is designed in response to the new undivided world that biomedicine is ushering in. As culture converges upon nature; biology upon society; illness upon health; life upon death; consumers of healthcare upon producers, so both the need and opportunity for new forms of public and academic debate and discussion expands. The Genetics and Democracy (GaD) network at Lund University was created in 2007 drawing together population geneticists and clinical geneticists with political scientists and ethnologists in the launching of a highly successful international seminar series on the social, legal and political dimensions of the new genetics. The Learning and Media Technology Studio (LETStudio) was established at the beginning of 2010 as a strategic cross-faculty research initiative at the University of Gothenburg. Emerging alongside the new Gothenburg Centre for Person-Centred Care (GPCC) at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, part of the ambition of LETStudio is to initiate new interdisciplinary research on the co-production of new medical technologies and patient-doctor relations in the management and treatment of different forms of chronic illness. Thus, a common ambition drawing GaD and LETStudio into collaborative endeavour is to advance concerted and productive engagement with the new and inventive patterns of sociality and citizenship emerging in the wake of the contemporary biomedicalisation of illness and health. As we are increasingly expected to live and learn in respect of the biomedical knowledge of ourselves we are able to access, how can the new relations of bioeconomy and society this furthers be subjected to broader and more challenging modes of interrogation?

It is intended to hold at least four jointly convened seminars or workshops every year for the next two years where GaD and LETStudio will take it in turns to act as hosts. As well as furthering discussions and encouraging the creation of new interdisciplinary research initiatives both within and between the two co-ordinating networks, it is also intended for the seminars and workshops to be open for doctoral students from different disciplines to follow as part of their research education.

For further details concerning this event and forthcoming seminars in the Biomedical Transformations of Life series please contact one of the following representatives from GaD and LETStudio

Niclas Hagen (GaD)
Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences
Lund University
Tel.: +46 707435016
e-mail: niclas.hagen@kultur.lu.se

Maria Hedlund PhD (GaD)
Department of Political Science
Lund University
Tel.: +46 462220163
e-mail: maria.hedlund@svet.lu.se

Mark Elam PhD (LETStudio)
Department of Sociology
University of Gothenburg
Tel.: +46 317864825
e-mail: mark.elam@sts.gu.se

2 thoughts on “Genetic Tests: Knowledge, Practice and Use

  1. Hi Niclas,
    It doesn’t look like you are working much on your blog these days – a great pity as you wrote some real nice material.
    I’ve started to blog about related issues – well, related, but in a quite different I suppose.

    Check me out at ‘biology in culture’, http://www.biologyinculture.wordpress.com

    1. Hi!
      Sorry for a very late response. And a big thanks for a nice comment. I´ve have not been able to find time to work on the blog for some time now, been busy working on other stuff but I´ve just added a new post which will be followed by a series on some reflections on Foucault and Habermas in relation to biomedicine.
      Cheers!
      Niclas

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