Wednesday, May 9, 2018 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Life Science Building, 3314 - UCLA

The environment in epigenetics: Enabling research entrepreneurship

Epigenetics research highlights the importance of environmental factors that can impact gene regulation by leaving marks on the epigenome. Drawing upon findings from an ethnographic study carried out in two epigenetic research laboratories in the United Kingdom, I explore the notion of environment as a vehicle that enables teams to do what they do. I show that specific articulations of the environment in epigenetics facilitate research entrepreneurship. That is, specific understandings of the environment are mobilised by scientists to connect with other teams and build research collaborations. Drawing upon Stephen Hilgartner’s notion of knowledge-control regimes, I discuss how the labs engage with a series of actors and form collaborations in order to construct epigenetics knowledge, while analysing how the labs organise the travelling of assets, such as data, expertise or technologies, outside of the laboratories’ borders. This leads me to examine the governance regimes put into place by the labs to remain in control of their assets and argue that what is at stake is the maintenance of proprietary control over knowledge.


Clémence Pinel is a social scientist of bioscience and biomedicine. Her main research interest lies in the ways scientific knowledge is produced, exploring the cultural, historical and social contexts surrounding knowledge production. She is currently undertaking a PhD in the School of Population Sciences and Environmental Sciences at King’s College London, funded by the Wellcome Trust. Clémence’s PhD is a social science study of epigenetics research. She uses ethnography to better understand epigenetics research in the making. The overall aim is to examine how the notion of environment is conceptualised and enacted in epigenetics.


This event is sponsored by the EpiDaPo Laboratory, a collaboration of UCLA and CNRS,
and the Insitute for Society and Genetics

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Friday, May 18, 2018 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
La Kretz Garden Pavilion #101 - UCLA

The Postgenomic Condition: Justice, Knowledge, Life After the Genome

Now that we have sequenced the human genome, what does it mean? This talk critically examines the decade after the Human Genome Project, and the fundamental questions about meaning, value and justice this landmark achievement left in its wake. Drawing on more than a decade of research—in molecular biology labs, commercial startups, governmental agencies, and civic spaces—it explores how  efforts to transform genomics from high tech informatics practiced by a few to meaningful knowledge beneficial to all exposed the limits of long-cherished liberal modes of knowing and governing life.  Cases from the American South to the Scottish highlands will illustrate the challenges faced by scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, bioethicists, lawyers, and patient advocates who leveraged liberal democratic practices to endeavor to make genomic data valuable for interpreting and caring for life. It brings into rich empirical focus the resulting hard on-the-ground questions about how to know and live on a depleted but data-rich, interconnected yet fractured planet, where technoscience garners significant resources, but deeper questions of knowledge and justice urgently demand attention.

Dr. Jenny Reardon is a Professor of Sociology and the Founding Director of the Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Her research draws into focus questions about identity, justice and democracy that are often silently embedded in scientific ideas and practices, particularly in modern genomic research. Her training spans molecular biology, the history of biology, science studies, feminist and critical race studies, and the sociology of science, technology and medicine. She is the author of Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics (Princeton University Press, 2005) and The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome (Chicago University Press, Fall 2017).  She has been the recipient of fellowships and awards from, among others, the National Science Foundation, the Max Planck Institute, the Humboldt Foundation, the London School of Economics, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, and the United States Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology.


This event is sponsored by the EpiDaPo Laboratory, a collaboration of UCLA and CNRS,
and the Insitute for Society and Genetics.

Contact organizer: