The role of social research in genomics


Although a little over ten years ago the concept of genomics itself was hardly known outside the molecular biologists’ circle, these days it has become routine for a whole contingent of researchers from various backgrounds. In various countries, investment in research into the ‘social’ implications of this new technology followed in the slipstream of large-scale public investment in genomics. This social research around the life sciences has become known under the name ELSA (Ethical, Legal and Societal Aspects) and covers a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

“In many countries, ELSA genomics was initiated top-down, certainly also in response to the social debate about biotechnology in the late nineties. Such a controversy had to be avoided in regard to genomics,” said Bernhard Wieser, senior researcher at the Interuniversitäres Forschungszentrum für Technik, Arbeit und Kultur (IFZ) of the University of Graz, Austria.

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