The Troubled Dream of Genetic Medicine

The Troubled Dream of Genetic Medicine

Ethnicity and Innovation in Tay-Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis, and Sickle Cell Disease

Book - 2006
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Johns Hopkins University Press

Why do racial and ethnic controversies become attached, as they often do, to discussions of modern genetics? How do theories about genetic difference become entangled with political debates about cultural and group differences in America? Such issues are a conspicuous part of the histories of three hereditary diseases: Tay-Sachs, commonly identified with Jewish Americans; cystic fibrosis, often labeled a "Caucasian" disease; and sickle cell disease, widely associated with African Americans.

In this captivating account, historians Keith Wailoo and Stephen Pemberton reveal how these diseases—fraught with ethnic and racial meanings for many Americans—became objects of biological fascination and crucibles of social debate. Peering behind the headlines of breakthrough treatments and coming cures, they tell a complex story: about different kinds of suffering and faith, about unequal access to the promises and perils of modern medicine, and about how Americans consume innovation and how they come to believe in, or resist, the notion of imminent medical breakthroughs.

With Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, and sickle cell disease as a powerful backdrop, the authors provide a glimpse into a diverse America where racial ideologies, cultural politics, and conflicting beliefs about the power of genetics shape disparate health care expectations and experiences.

Publisher: Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006
ISBN: 9780801883255
Characteristics: viii, 249 p. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Pemberton, Stephen Gregory


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Dec 24, 2015

I found the book to be mostly disappointing. The biggest criticism I have to bring is its repetitiveness - I understood the authors desire to link the three medical-socio-ethnic stories, however there was no need to repeat the same ideas and the same quotes so often (which you will read again and again, up to 5-6 times throughout the book, even repeating themselves in the same chapter!).


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