"Animals as Patients, Models, and Infrastructure in Precision Bioscience"
Declan Kuch, Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Australia.
Co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University.
Sheila Jasanoff, Faculty Associate. Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School.
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Precision medicine has recently emerged as the preeminent promissory discourse in biomedicine, doubling down on the promises of biobanking to cure diseases by integrating multiple forms of data to create chemically targeted therapies. This paper examines the ways metaphors of targeting intersect with animals in this promissory terrain. I provide a genealogy of the ‘magic bullet’ metaphor that is pivotal to the promises of nanoscience, as a component of precision medicine. Revisiting how receptor theory and animal models developed together in biomedical research, I argue that animals underpin the imagination of precision medicine by operating in three intersecting modes: as models and as infrastructure for experimentation through selective breeding; and as patients in veterinary and agricultural settings. Animals’ conflicting status is instructive to the multiple ways precision medicine enacts new relations of care, knowledge of specific diseases (especially cancer) and concepts of population and cure.
Declan Kuch is a Research Fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales, Australia. His work spans socio-legal studies and public engagement with science and technology in energy, climate change and the life sciences. He is the author ‘The Rise and Fall of Carbon Emissions Trading’ (Palgrave MacMillan), and is currently writing a book about ‘Precision Bioscience’ with Matthew Kearnes.