Introduction to Handbook of Genomics, Health and Society

Authored by: Sahra Gibbon , Barbara Prainsack , Stephen Hilgartner , Janelle Lamoreaux

Handbook of Genomics, Health and Society

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138211957
eBook ISBN: 9781315451695
Adobe ISBN:


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As we reflect on the period between the publication of the first edition of this Handbook in 2009 and the second edition, a great deal seems to have changed. In terms of scope, scale and speed, genomic technologies have become increasingly embedded within different health care and research arenas. In the process, the ‘new genetics’ seems to have seamlessly segued into genomics, even post-genomics including epigenetics. At the same time, while some of the core themes raised in the first edition, including questions of ethics, regulation and commercialisation, remain vital to current social science engagements with the evolving terrain of genomic science and medicine, these are increasingly seen through the lenses of justice, governance and the bioeconomy. Such shifts are in part reflected in the thematic focus (and renamed title) of the current Handbook that places Genomics, Health and Society centre stage. Whilst recognising that what constitutes ‘health’ in an era of genomics remains contested, inequitably distributed and not always easily defined, the renamed title reflects how ‘health’, broadly construed, has been and continues to be a vital resource, a site of transformation and a tool in the reshaping of genomics and society. In this sense, the new title points to the focus of the volume on genomics in human health-related contexts, and not, for example, forensics or environmental genomics. While the discussions in this volume do touch upon many areas beyond health, given the expansion and growth of genomic technologies in fields outside of health, we have had nevertheless to limit the area which we can claim to cover systematically.

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