Rachel Adams Directs New CSSD Group Addressing the Ethical, Cultural, Political, and Historical Questions Around Precision Medicine

October 11, 2016
Rachel Adams Directs New CSSD Group Addressing the Ethical, Cultural, Political, and Historical Questions Around Precision Medicine

CSSD is initiating a broad-based exploration of questions raised by precision medicine—an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person—in such fields as law, ethics, social sciences, and the humanities.

Precision Medicine: Ethics, Politics and Culture will be the first project of its kind to bring faculty from the humanities, social sciences, law, and medicine into dialogue with leading scholars from the United States and abroad to discuss how humanistic questions might enhance the understanding of the ethical, social, legal, and political implications of precision medicine research. A series of workshops and lectures will explore the mutual benefits to humanists, social scientists, researchers, and clinicians of serious interdisciplinary engagement with this emerging medical field.

The next event, on Thursday, October 13, 2016, from 5-8 p.m. at 754 Schermerhorn Extension, is a discussion with Dr. Aditya Bharadawaj, Professor of Anthropology and the Sociology of Development at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, on “Local and Global Dimensions of Precision Medicine.”

Rachel Adams, CSSD Director and Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University will direct the project with support from Columbia’s Humanities Initiative.

Topics the project plans to address include how the use of genetic information changes understandings of self, agency, health, embodiment and ability; how precision medicine might intersect with the movement for patients’ and disability rights; historical perspectives that may illuminate the development of precision medicine in the present; how cross-cultural understandings of medicine, health, and ability might contribute to Euro-American approaches to precision medicine; how precision medicine might change the ways care is given and received; how precision medicine is understood by popular media; and the benefits and drawbacks of a “big data” approach to research and treatment.

CSSD’s project is part of Columbia’s larger overall Precision Medicine Initiative, which aims to establish the university as the center for scholarship relating to precision medicine and society. In 2014 Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger announced a University-wide initiative to address the vast potential for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease based on the genomic and other data that precision medicine provides.