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Philomathia Symposium: Body Politics, The Dilemmas of Regulating New Technologies

When Nov 18, 2016
from 09:30 AM to 05:00 PM
Where Cripps Court, Magdalene College
Contact Name Kristen Klebba
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Body Politics:

The dilemmas of regulating new technologies


Society is facing major challenges as advances in bio-medical technologies pose fundamental philosophical, ethical, legal and political questions. Who directs investment in the search for new technologies, and who has ownership and control of them?  How are they regulated, and how are decisions about their use formulated? This Symposium brings together social scientists with scientists in order to engage with major issues of policy. Should the law allow patenting of DNA or not? What are the implications of intervention to rectify ‘errors’ in DNA? What are the implications of a shift to individualised treatment based on analysis of the patient’s DNA?  These questions intersect with intervention in reproduction, both to assist infertile couples to have children, and to deal with genetic disease. What are the limits of intervention, and who should make the decisions?  And how should the shortage of organs for transplant be overcome? Should there be a presumption that organs are donated unless an individual opts out? How should surgeons balance the risk of using suboptimal organs against the risk of death? 


The Symposium will address three themes – the law of DNA patents, family planning, and sub-optimal organ transplants – and conclude with a policy roundtable and a plenary lecture.  The University of Cambridge has been at the forefront of development in bio-medical science in all of these areas, and this Symposium aims to enter into dialogue with social scientists and to reflect on the implications for policy’.


We will have three panels under the following headings followed by a policy roundtable and keynote lecture:


Should we change EU law to disallow DNA patents? Contributors include Dr John Bradley, Professor Timo Minssen and Professor Mateo Aboy

Family planning in the era of changing fertility: Contributors include Professor Sarah Franklin and Sarah Norcross

The need for the transplantation of suboptimal organs: Contributors include Dr Kourosh Saeb-Parsy and Dr Matthew Dyson

Policy roundtable: Contributors include Sir Roy Calne, Professor Michael Parker and Sally Cheshire.


Keynote speaker: Professor Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard University


Each chaired session will consist of three 10-15 talks followed by a panel discussion which will then be opened up to the floor.


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We aim to support public policy research across Cambridge University, working with colleagues in science, social science, the arts and humanities, to apply new thinking to public policy problems and promote research and analysis into the public policy process. We hope to connect and raise the profile of existing public policy related work across the University and support collaborative research that includes policy development in a range of subject areas. 

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