Local mutations: On the tentative beginnings of molecular oncology in Britain 1980–2000

Steve Sturdy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Popular and scientific accounts of the molecularisation of cancer typically attribute it to advances in laboratory science, particularly molecular geneticists. However, historical research has indicated that clinical expertise input was often vital for advancing such work. The present paper reinforces that view. Looking in detail at British research into the molecular genetics of familial cancers during the 1980s and 1990s, it shows that that research, too, depended on crucial input from family cancer clinics. Moreover, the development of clinical services for familial cancers was in turn shaped by the demands of contributing to molecular genetic research. The paper concludes that accounts of the molecularisation of cancer that suppose a one-way transfer of knowledge and practice from laboratory to clinic misrepresent the complex interactions that were involved in molecularising familial cancers, and that were informed by the particular local and national circumstances in which they took shape.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-25
Number of pages19
JournalNew Genetics and Society
Volume40
Issue number1
Early online date7 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • bioclinical collectives
  • familial cancers
  • genetic testing
  • molecular oncology
  • molecularisation

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