January 17, 2018

The sequencing of the human genome in 2000 was heralded as a turning point for humanity—a milestone that would transform medicine and defeat cancer.

Today, the longed-for promise of medical benefits endures and the quest for more data continues, but widening global inequality begs the question of how any benefits might be distributed, particularly to those with little or no health care.

Sociologist Jenny Reardon, founder of the Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz, evaluates the promise and pitfalls of genomics in her new book The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, and Knowledge After the Genome (University of Chicago Press, 2017). The book is based on a decade-long ethnographic study of people around the globe who were trying to transform genomics from a lofty, high-tech endeavor of elite researchers into a justice-driven initiative that would yield benefits for all.

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