Even a Moonshot Needs a Flight Plan: Genetics and Ethics in the Obama Administration

Photo of Alondra Nelson

Alondra Nelson, Department of Sociology, Columbia University

Alondra Nelson: Dr. Nelson's talk will home in on the case of the Obama administration's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and, in particular, the evolution of the precision medicine initiative (PMI) in the USA. If "health is politics by other means," as Dr. Nelson has argued, how does the good biocitizen understand the PMI and endeavors like it, especially given the explicit efforts of its organizers and emissaries to better address racial and ethnic differences in the gathering of data and distribution of research benefits?

Alondra Nelson is president of the Social Science Research Council and professor of sociology at Columbia University. An award-winning scholar of science, medicine, and social inequality, her recent books include The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the GenomeGenetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History, and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination. Alondra has contributed to national policy discussions on inequality, and about the social implications of new technologies, including artificial intelligencebig data, direct-to-consumer genetics, and human gene-editing. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Data & Society Research Institute. Alondra is chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge, and Technology and is an elected member of the Sociological Research Association.