Centre for Studies in Science Policy
School of Social Sciences, JNU
Special Lecture Series
"Blockbuster Diagnostics? Reflections on the Political Economy of Diagnostic Innovation"
Dr. Stuart Hogarth
Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at King's College London
Abstract: A decade after the Human Genome Project, major public and private investments continue to fuel expectations that 'omics'-based diagnostic tools will unleash a biomedical revolution, redefining disease taxonomies, transforming clinical practice and revitalising the diagnostics industry. However, there is considerable uncertainty about how public policy should steer this new wave of diagnostic innovation. Much of that uncertainty revolves around three questions: what sort of clinical evidence do we need before a new diagnostic test enters medical practice; who should generate that evidence, and how can we ensure it is rigorously evaluated? In this talk I suggest that three inter-related trends characterise contemporary diagnostic innovation: the corporatisation of R&D; the emulation of pharmaceutical industry business models and marketing strategies, and regulatory expansion. Using cervical cancer screening as a case study, I will describe how development of the Pap smear in the first half of the twentieth century was led by the public sector (NGOs, academic scientists, government agencies) and contrast this with the development of a rival molecular technology in the late twentieth century: DNA diagnostics for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The HPV testing market has been dominated by a single company, in part because of a legal monopoly on HPV DNA patents, and in part because early-mover advantage has meant that the major clinical studies of HPV testing were conducted using their proprietary technology.
About Speaker: Dr Stuart Hogarth is a member of the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at King's College London. He is trained in the history of medicine, but now works at the interface between medical sociology, bioethics and science and technology studies. He is interested in understanding how post-genomic science enters clinical practice as personalised medicine and my research maps and analyses the emergent socio-technical regime which supports that translational process. In 2012 he was awarded a Wellcome Trust fellowship to conduct a three-year comparative study looking at how DNA patents have affected the development and adoption of HPV tests for cervical cancer screening in the USA, UK and India. Building on this project he is now leading the development of a new research group within the department focused on the molecularisation of oncology. His work combines empirical research in a political sociology framework with normative analysis of public policy and commercial strategy. He maintains a blog GeneValues.wordpress.com.
Venue: Room No. 227, CSSP, SSS-1
Time: 4.00 P.M.
Date: Tuesday, 7th April 2015
All are welcome to attend the lecture.
Saradindu Bhaduri, Anup Kumar Das
Coordinator, CSSP Lecture Series