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Moments of Truth in Genetic Medicine

M. Susan Lindee

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Genetic research increasingly dominates medical thought and practice in the United States and in many other industrialized nations. Susan Lindee's original study explores the institutions, disciplines, and ideas that initiated the reconfiguration of genetic medicine from a marginal field in the mid-1950s to a core research frontier of biomedicine.

Tracing the work of geneticists and other experts in identifying and classifying disease during the explosive period between 1950 and 1980, Lindee identifies the individual "moments of truth" that moved the field away from its eugenic past to the…

Genetic research increasingly dominates medical thought and practice in the United States and in many other industrialized nations. Susan Lindee's original study explores the institutions, disciplines, and ideas that initiated the reconfiguration of genetic medicine from a marginal field in the mid-1950s to a core research frontier of biomedicine.

Tracing the work of geneticists and other experts in identifying and classifying disease during the explosive period between 1950 and 1980, Lindee identifies the individual "moments of truth" that moved the field away from its eugenic past to the center of a new world view in which nearly all disease is understood to be fundamentally genetic. She suggests that these moments of truth were experienced not only by scientists but also by those who had familial, intimate, emotional knowledge of hereditary disease: patients, family members, and research subjects.

Focusing on benchmarks in the field—such as the rise of neonatal testing in the 1960s, genetic studies of unique human populations such as the Amish, the development of human cytogenetics and human behavioral genetics, and the efforts to find genes for rare diseases such as familial dysautonomia—she tracks the emergence of a biomedical consensus that nearly all disease is genetic disease.

Using the success of this field as a point of entry, Lindee chronicles both the production of knowledge in biomedicine and changes in the cultural meaning of the body in the late twentieth century. She suggests that scientific knowledge is a community project that is shaped directly by people in many different social and professional locations. The power to experience and report scientific truth may be much more dispersed than it sometimes appears, because people know things about their own bodies, and their knowledge has often been incorporated into the technical infrastructure of genomic medicine.

Lindee's pathbreaking study shows the interdependence of technical and social parameters in contemporary biomedicine.

Reviews

Reviews

These fascinating, well-written stories portray what it is like to work in human or medical genetics, both in the clinic and as a researcher.

As difficult as it is to pinpoint the key events in history, Lindee manages this well, singling out and humanising the most important events and players.

This history will reward anyone interested in the paths from gene discoveries to cures or the potential for genomic medicine.

Captures the complexities of research on genetic disease while prompting us to reconsider the distribution of scientific authority and the dynamics of knowledge production.

An elegant, accessible, even thrilling book that is itself a moment of historical truth and a must-read.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
288
ISBN
9780801891014
Illustration Description
7 halftones, 1 line drawing
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
2. Babies' Blood: Phenylketonuria and the Rise of Public Health Genetics
3. Provenance and the Pedigree: Victor McKusick's Field Work with the Pennsylvania Amish
4

Acknowledgments
1. Introduction
2. Babies' Blood: Phenylketonuria and the Rise of Public Health Genetics
3. Provenance and the Pedigree: Victor McKusick's Field Work with the Pennsylvania Amish
4. Squashed Spiders: Standardizing the Human Chromosomes and Other Unruly Things
5. Two Peas in a Pod: Twin Science and the Rise of Human Behavior Genetics
6. Jewish Genes: History, Emotion, and Familial Dysautonomia
7. Conclusion
Notes
Essay on Sources
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Resources

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