Events: Summer Genomics Salon

We invite all of you to participate in a summer genomics “salon” to discuss social issues in genomics. The goal is to provide an informal forum for discussing subjects of general intellectual interest related to genomics and, more broadly, modern biology. The general idea comes from the Stanford AI salon, which gets students and faculty together every other week to discuss high-level issues related to artificial intelligence.

We would love to see you there! So far, we’ve set the following schedule for the first part of the summer, and we’ll add sessions in August and September based on interest and feedback. The format of each session will be a short, framing statement by the organizer following by free-form discussion. We’ll provide some snacks and drinks, and feel free to bring some of your own. We hope this will be light, fun, and interesting for everyone involved!

Thursday, June 23, 4:30pm (Foege S-110)
Public understanding of science
Katherine Xue (Genome Sciences) and Molly Gasperini (Genome Sciences)

Everyone agrees that science communication is important, but no one seems to agree how it should be done. Science communication–particularly science writing–is subject to criticism from multiple directions: for hype, for oversimplification, for inaccuracy, for uncritically taking scientists at their word. This session will explore the complications and contradictions of communicating science to the public. What do these criticisms suggest about how science communication is and should be done? What is it, really, that the public should know about science?

Thursday, July 14, 4:30pm (Foege S-110)
Medicine and identity
Jolie Carlisle (Genome Sciences) and Hugh Haddox (MCB)

Growing interest in personalized medicine has generated initiatives that aim to develop medicines for demographic groups based on characteristics like race and gender. This session will examine the complex ways in which medical science shapes ideas about identity at the level of both social groups (for instance, race and gender) and individuals (for instance, personality characteristics and mental health). How does science draw on and reinforce social concepts of identity? What are the implications for policy design?

Thursday, August 4, 4:30pm (Foege S-110)
Bioscience as change agent: rhetorics of restraint and inevitability in response to advances in genetic technologies
Leah Ceccarelli (Professor of Communication)

Last year, a group of scientists and bioethicists published an editorial in Science calling for a moratorium on the use of CRISPR-Cas9 for germline genome modification, drawing comparisons to the 1975 Asilomar letter calling for voluntary deferral of certain kinds of recombinant DNA research. This session will compare the rhetoric of these two influential statements. How does the language and framing of these two letters portray bioscience and its capacity for change? What do they suggest about our collective ability to shape the course of technological change?


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