"Stem cell tourism and the ambiguity of 'hope'" by Prof Alan Petersen

Past Event

26 October 2012, 1:30pm - 3:00pm

Said Business School
Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HP

This seminar is hosted by the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, an Oxford Martin School Institute

Abstract: In recent years, medical tourism has emerged as a major economic sector, reflecting and contributing to far reaching changes in the practices and expectations of contemporary medicine. Treatments for virtually all conditions can be purchased at various clinics and hospitals around the world, if one is willing and able to pay. This paper focuses on one form of medical travel, stem cell tourism, exploring the politico-economic and socio-cultural conditions of its emergence and the implications for those seeking treatments, for the future of stem cell science and for bioscience more generally. The market for early stem cell treatments has been enabled by a combination of factors, including deregulatory policies, changing definitions of citizenship, and government support for high-tech interventions and bio-economic development. Drawing on data from our research involving analysis of online advertising for stem cell treatments, and interviews with patients who have traveled overseas for such treatments and with scientists, clinicians, and patient groups, the paper will explore the complexity and ambiguity of 'hope' that underpins the market of stem cell treatments. The paper will conclude by highlighting implications for research on the sociocultural dynamics of hope and for regulatory responses to stem cell tourism.

Speaker: Professor Alan Petersen, Professor of Sociology, School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, Melbourne

Biography: Alan Petersen is Professor Sociology, School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash University, Melbourne. He was previously Professor of Sociology, University of Plymouth (2001-2007). His research spans the fields of the sociology of health and medicine, STS, and gender studies. His most recent books are: The Politics of Bioethics (Routledge, 2011) and Aging Men, Masculinities and Modern Medicine (Routledge, in press) (edited with Antje Kampf and Barbara Marshall). His current research projects include an Australian Research Council Discovery Project on stem cell tourism (2012-2014), on which he is sole Chief Investigator (with Steve Wainwright, Centre for Biomedicine and Society, Brunel University, as Partner Investigator). He currently serves on two Australian Federal Government Advisory Committees: The National Enabling Technologies Strategy Stakeholders' Advisory Council, and the Gene Technology Regulator's Ethics and Community Consultative Committee.

Please email Bethsheba McGill if you plan to attend.