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Title: 'The human genome' : a study of something we all share
Author: Bostanci, Adam
ISNI:       0000 0001 3471 3605
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2007
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This is a study of references to and invocations of'the human genome' in the context of human genome research and particularly in the course of the controversy between the international Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics. References to 'the human genome' have been met with criticism by scholars in view of the manifest diversity of human beings. In contrast, I show how references to 'the human genome' as a shared though invisible object of investigation furnished a sense of shared purpose and mutual accountability among scientific experts, which also extended to policy makers and broader audiences. In particular, I show how references to 'the human genome' served to coordinate research with human-derived DNA and that invocations of 'the human genome' among scientist cut across contexts that are conventionally classed as either scientific or commercial. An analysis ofthe examination of patent applications for three entire microbial genome sequences shows that for the US Patent and Trademark Office these only constituted a logistical challenge; the patent system was unconcerned with invocations of 'the human genome'. I further document how scientists adopted the notion of a 'draft' of 'the human genome' in interactions with broader audiences. This went hand in hand with a shift in the focus of collective activity and references to 'the human genome' as a domain of investigation to the control ofhuman genome sequence information. In this context, invocations of 'the human genome' increasingly drew on discourses of property, which allows me to offer an alternative explanation for the perceived success of human genome research. Overall, my study shows that, while invocations of 'the human genome' changed to suit different objectives, actors did not differentiate between references to 'the human genome' for one purpose or another. Unreflective references to 'the human genome' thus furnished a sense ofshared purpose and mutual accountability among them. At the same time, this collective activity can be seen as effecting significant developments ofthe notion of'the human genome'. A further technical case study investigates how variability among human-derived DNA was accommodated in the results of the Human Genome Project and of Celera Genomics and explores how this might be conceptualised with respect to 'the human genome'. Development
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available