Talking Biopolitics with Charis Thompson

October 2

Please join Charis Thompson and the Center for Genetics and Society for Talking Biopolitics 2014. In this live web-based interview and conversation, Charis will talk with David Winickoff – and with you – about her latest book, Good Science: The Ethical Choreography of Stem Cell Research.

Follow the conversation at #TalkingBiopolitics!

About the Book

book cover

Good Science (MIT Press, 2013) investigates the evolution of the controversy over human pluripotent stem cell research in the United States and proposes a new ethical approach for "good science." Charis Thompson traces the political, ethical, and scientific developments that came together in what she characterizes as a "procurial" framing of innovation, based on concern with procurement of pluripotent cells and cell lines, a pro-cures mandate, and a proliferation of bio-curatorial practices.

Through this frame, Thompson brings light to what is not easily seen, such as the relevance of health disparities, disability justice, and militarization to stem cell research. Additionally, she highlights a shift in moral panic across the

global market from concerns about brain drain to fears about "snake oil" treatments. In the final section, Thompson focuses on moving beyond substitutive subjects of research, noting the practical and ethical failures of using some humans for others, and animals for humans.

With her comprehensive investigation of fifteen years of stem cell debate and discoveries, Thompson makes a strong case that good science and good ethics are mutually reinforcing, rather than antithetical, in contemporary biomedicine.

About the Author

Charis Thompson is Chancellor's Professor and Chair of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, while on leave from the Department of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She was formerly Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies and Director of the Science, Technology, and Society Center at Berkeley, and before that in the History of Science Department at Harvard University. Her previous book, Making Parents: The Ontological Choreography of Reproductive Technologies, won the 2007 Rachel Carson Award from the Society for the Social Study of Science. 

Photo of Charis Thompson

She is currently conducting a comparative research project on science elites in the US and UK. She is a recipient of UC Berkeley's Social Science Distinguished Teaching Award. She received her PhD from the Sociology (Science Studies) program at UC San Diego, and her BA in Philosophy, Psychology, and Physiology at Oxford University.

About the Interviewer

Photo of David Winickoff

David Winickoff, JD, is Associate Professor in Bioethics and Society in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. He previously taught at the Kennedy School of Public Policy at Harvard University. His bioethics work spans topics of biotechnology, systems of property and intellectual property, race, environmental regulation, food safety, human subjects research, and public health.

He is currently Co-director of the Science, Technology and Society Center at UC Berkeley, and the founder and executive director of the UC Berkeley Science, Ethics and Law Working Group. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for Genetics and Society.