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Genetics and Society

The renowned historian and philosopher of science Evelyn Fox Keller called the 1900s the "century of the gene"--a span of time that began with the rediscovery of Mendel's groundbreaking work on inheritance patterns in peas and concluded with the Human Genome Project. 


The twenty-first century, if anything, is only eclipsing its predecessor. Genetic searches for regions of the genome that are associated with diabetes and asthma and even intelligence and poverty are standard. Cancer clinics offer patients precision oncology that can purportedly deliver tailored gene-drug matches. Personal genomic companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA now count tens of millions of users who have swabbed their cheeks and sent their DNA to the private companies for processing. Efforts are underway to sequence the genome of every baby born in America.

The rapid expansion of genetic technologies and interventions raises a host of concerns about how those developments will impact members of society. Professor Tabery has contributed to the ethical, legal, social, and philosophical reflections on this "genomic revolution" for over two decades, highlighting what is so controversial about searching for genes associated with intelligence, documenting the history of debates over the interaction of nature and nurture, investigating how judges might evaluate biological information about a defendant's genetic predisposition to violence, and uncovering the history of eugenics and its lasting legacy on marginalized communities living today

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