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King's College London - Professor Barbara Prainsack


Barbara Prainsack is a political scientist by background. Her main research interest lies in the ways in which science and regulation constitute each other, and how this process is related to individual and collective identities. Barbara explores these questions by looking at the use of ‘biomarkers’, both in medical and forensic contexts. In the medical realm, her current work focuses on the emergence of personalised medicine and the ‘participatory turn’ in generating, analysing, and interpreting data. In the realm of forensics she is interested in the impact of forensic technologies on attitudes and strategies of prisoners; the societal and regulatory dimensions of forensic bioinformation exchange, and the increasing convergence between biomarkers used in forensic and medical practices.

Barbara has published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, over 20 chapters in books and reference works, as well as guest-edited several special issues in international journals. Together with Richard Hindmarsh (Griffith University, Nathan, Australia) she published an edited volume on the governance of forensic DNA Databases (Genetic Suspects, Cambridge University Press) in 2010. In 2011, she was the lead author of a Report on Solidarity: Reflections on an Emerging Concept in Bioethics, commissioned by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, where she also held a six-month Fellowship funded by the AHRC and The Nuffield Foundation. In 2012 she published Tracing Technologies: Prisoners’ Views in the Era of CSI (Ashgate, 2012), jointly authored with Helena Machado (University of Minho, Portugal). Her latest book publication is an edited collection on Genetics as Social Practice – Transdisciplinary Views on Science and Culture  (Ashgate,  2014; with Silke Schicktanz, Goettingen University, DE, and Gabriele Werner-Felmayer, University of Innsbruck, AT).

In the last ten years Barbara has been a visiting Fellow at the ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics at Cardiff University (winter 2006/07), and visiting professor (Gastdozentin) at the Department of Social Sciences at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, Germany (spring/summer terms 2010). She is currently a member of the National Bioethics Council advising the Federal government in Vienna, Austria, and a member of the UK National DNA Database Ethics Group. From 2011-2013 she chaired the European Science Foundation’s (ESF) Forward Look on Personalised Medicine for the European Citizen  (with Aarno Palotie and Stephen Holgate). She is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at St Thomas’ Hospital, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. 

Barbara is on the editorial advisory board of Personalized Medicine, Science as Culture, New Genetics & Society, OMICS , Genetics Research, and  Applied & Translational Genomics. She is an Area Editor for the forthcoming second edition of the International Encyclopedia for Social and Behavioral Sciences (Elsevier, 2015), covering 400 entries in the fields of Evolutionary Sciences; Genetics, Behavior and Society; Religious Studies; Law; and Science and Technology Studies (STS)

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