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 Social Studies of Bioscience and Biotech  posted by  duggu   on 11/27/2007  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Good, Byron, Mary-Jo Good, and Michael M. Fischer, HST.930J Social Studies of Bioscience and Biotech, Fall 2005. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 09 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Plasticity of adult stem cells.

Plasticity of adult stem cells. (Image courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.)

Course Highlights

This course features a complete bibliography of readings.

Course Description

In this course, social, ethical and clinical issues associated with the development of new biotechnologies and their integration into clinical practice is discussed. Basic scientists, clinicians, bioethicists, and social scientists present on the following four general topics: changing political economy of biotech research; problems associated with the adaption of new biotechnologies and findings from molecular biology for clinical settings; the ethical issues that emerge from clinical research and clinical use of new technologies; and the broader social ethics of access and inequality.



Course Overview

The course will focus on changing scientific paradigms and their social medicine (social, ethical, clinical) implications. The course will look very closely at the development of new biotechnologies, at the basic science level, and the social and ethical issues associated with these new technologies. For instance, xenotransplantation provides a window into new understandings of immune mechanisms, but at the same time creates such troubling ethical issues as changing requirements for informed consent and the nature of risk to society. Stem cells and tissue engineering provide a window into both therapeutic cloning and the ethics of, and legislative control of, embryo research. Basic scientists, clinicians, bioethicists and social scientists will make presentations on topics including the changing political economy of biotech research (university-industry relations, venture capital, etc.); problems associated with the adaptation of new biotechnologies for clinical settings; the ethical issues that emerge from clinical research and clinical use of new technologies (including clinical trials); and the broader social ethics associated with the differential availability and use of new technologies, pharmaceuticals or experimental procedures across rich and poor nations. Students and faculty will reflect on these issues based on cases presented in class, drawing on recent literature from medical ethics, the social studies of science, and medical anthropology.

This year we particularly want to explore how "interdisciplinary" work gets accomplished. We have invited a number of people involved in the new MGH Thematic Centers to talk about their labs, their thinking about the opportunities such new Centers might create, the labors of putting such Centers together, and the scientific trajectories envisioned. We will also continue following the angiogenesis story that has been unfolding over the past several years, as well as tissue engineering and stem cell initiatives.


Use of cases and recent literature.


Pass/fail for medical students. Separate arrangements are made for STS graduate students.


Two short papers are required.




1 Introduction and Overview: Social and Ethical Questions
2 Polymers for Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineering - Prof. Robert Langer, Kenneth J. Germeshausen Professor of Chemical Engineering, MIT
3 Embodiment and Structural Biology, Phenomenology of Medicine - Natasha Myers (STS Program, MIT)
4 Tissue Engineering - Dr. Joseph Vacanti, John Homans Professor of Surgery and Director of Pediatric Transplanation, MGH
5 Clinical Narratives - Prof. Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good, Professor of Social Medicine, HMS
6 Photomedicine and Non-invasive Technologies - Dr. R. Rox Anderson, Director Wellman Center for Photomedicine and Professor of Dermatology, MGH, HMS, HST
7 Multidisciplinary Research - Prof. Brian Seed, Professor of Genetics and Health, Science and Technology, Director of Thematic Center for Computational Biology, MGH, HMS, HST
8 Angiogensis; Translation from Bench to Clinic - Dr. Judah Folkman, Andrus Professor of Pediatric Surgery and Professor of Cell Biology, HMS
9 Stem Cells - Dr. George Q. Daley, M.D./Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, HMS, Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's, and Dana-Farber
10 Facilitating Multidisciplinary Research at MGH - Dr. John Parrish, Director MGH-Harvard Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Director of CIMIT, Chief Dermatology Service, MGH, and founding Director Wellman Center for Photomedicine
11 Organ Transplanation in Turkey, Ethical Models of Organ Donation - Aslihan Sanal, STS Program, MIT
12 Ethics in Medicine - Prof. Dan Brock, Prof. of Social Medicine and Director of the Division of Medical Ethics, Harvard Medical School
13 Wrap-up   Tell A Friend