Immortality & Immorality: Stem Cells & Social Justice
In 1951, the first human cells to live outside the body in a Petri Dish were removed from Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman diagnosed with cervical cancer. Within half a century, cell biology advanced from culturing cells, to cloning animals, to the transplantation of human or chimeric "spare" body parts. In this new age of regenerative medicine, there are those who anticipate looking youthful and living forever while others hope and promise to cure and treat diseases. What does this mean in a diverse society with resource inequity? To answer this question we will construct visual narratives that highlight the lack of international consensus on how stem cell research should be conducted, regulated, and funded. Course resources will include an infographic that traces the history and biology of the field in the public and private sector, the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, government sponsored publications, documentary films, scientific animations, and research articles spanning biology, bioethics, politics, anthropology, and religious, feminist, disability, and race studies. Students will apply what they learn during interactive case analyses that critically evaluate the binaries being presented, recognize multiple world-views, reveal nuanced complexities, and seek to identify means of supporting socially responsible biomedical research
Students must register for both the lecture and discussion section of this course.
Open to Undergraduate students.