The ‘Public Good’ of Genomics

This week I participated as a discussant along with Lindsey Dillon, Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz, for Steve Sturdy’s talk at the Science and Justice Center at UC Santa Cruz. Steve Sturdy, Professor of the Sociology of Medical Knowledge at the University of Edinburgh, explored the question of the ‘public good,’ and how it has been thought of and variously understood within the field of genomics.

Here is Steve’s abstract:

Genomic data: public, private or ‘common’?

The growth of genomics has involved recurring disputes over whether genomic data should be treated as a public, private or common good.  But what is at stake in those disputes?  Who benefits from different forms of ownership of genomic data?  This lecture will examine how and why the boundaries between public and private ownership of genomic data have shifted over the past forty years, including the changing justifications that have been put forward for different forms of ownership.  In so doing, it will highlight changes that have taken place in the social organisation and justification of biomedical research more generally.