Conferences archive > 2015 > SPEAKERS & ABSTRACTS

Giuseppe Testa

Giuseppe Testa holds an MD from the University of Perugia, a PhD from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, and an MA in Health Care Ethics and Law from the University of Manchester. His unique accomplishment is the successful pursuit of a parallel career as practicing life scientist and scholar in Bioethics and Science and Technology Studies (STS).
A European Research Council (ERC) awardee, Giuseppe Testa is Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Milan and Principal Investigator at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan where he heads the Laboratory of Stem Cell Epigenetics focusing on epigenetic regulation, cell reprogramming and disease-modeling. He has published in leading journals including Nature Genetics, Cell, Cell Stem Cell, Cell Reports, Nature Biotechnology, Science, PLoS Genetics, Biosocieties, Journal of Medical Ethics, New Genetics and Society. In 2006 he co-founded the interdisciplinary PhD program of the European School of Molecular Medicine on ‘Foundations and Ethics of the Life Sciences’, the first example of a thoroughly interdisciplinary PhD across the life sciences and the humanities. His first book ‘Naked genes: Reinventing the Human in the Molecular Age’, co-authored with Helga Nowotny, published in German, English and Italian was widely acclaimed in the leading international press. He serves on several research networks and academic societies, including the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC), the European Bank for induced pluripotent Stem Cells (EBiSC) and the Italian Society of Cell Biology and Differentiation (ABCD). He is member of the editorial board of Stem Cell Reports, the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Journal of Medical Ethics and is the recipient of several scientific prizes, including in 2003 the Roche Prize for leading bioscientist of the next decade.


Precisely Now: the Time to Shape Precision Medicine Across Cure and Care

Precision medicine is upon us, at least in terms of the resources, cultural and financial alike, that are catalyzing the emergence of this promissory narrative. Indeed, the future of medicine is being increasingly articulated around the notion of precision, with the prospect of tailoring the traditional pipeline of prevention, diagnosis, prognosis and therapy to individual makeups, replacing the average with the singular, the general classification of diseases with their concrete individual unfolding. But what is precise in precision medicine, what individual makeups are being singled out and with what kind of societal impact across the ever fluid boundaries between cure and care, normal and pathological, individual and collective, public and private?
Here I trace the contours and challenges of precision medicine, building on recent advances from two streams of my scholarship, the development of patient-specific disease models and the analysis of participatory and regulatory practices at the interface of technoscientific and societal innovation.
Specifically, I analyze how the expansion of the life sciences into the fabric of our time is rooted in the eminent flexibility of their technological core, which entails at its most basic the following two capacities: i) that of encompassing an increasing range of biological objects and functions in digital format; and ii) that of intervening into biological objects and functions by harnessing their digital codes through a panoply of molecular switches. From molecules to ‘omic’ profiles, from cellular lineages to organs, all more or less classically defined levels of biological organization are now amenable to the digitizing ambition of the life sciences. Against this backdrop, I probe the mutual constitution of epistemic and societal arrangements in biomedicine, introducing the notion of scale as an innovative tool for policy-relevant theorizing in precision medicine. Specifically, the notion of scale captures and exposes the deepening gaze of the life sciences in exploring matters of major societal concern through an array of distinct yet compatible levels of inquiry, enabling the simultaneous investigation of the corresponding scales of governance through which developments in the life sciences are feeding into society, and vice versa, in the rising edifice of precision medicine.


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