The Double-Edged Helix; Social Implications Of Genetics In A Diverse Society / Edition 1

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The Double-Edged Helix explores the impact of recent genetic discoveries on both different population segments and society as a whole. The authors address the medical and ethical implications of the new technologies, outlining potential positive and negative effects of genetic research on minorities, individuals with disabilities, and those of diverse sexual orientations. Presenting a wide array of perspectives, this book emphasizes the need to ensure that research into genetics research does not result in discrimination against people on the basis of their DNA.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews


This book superbly and successfully fills its purpose—to show the need for dialogue between researchers, health care professionals, communities, and individuals regarding various aspects of genetic technology.

Journal of the American Medical Association - Doris Teichler Zallen

Bringing the concerns of different communities together in a single volume makes it possible to appreciate the mosaic of human issues more fully and forces us to anticipate the challenges that may arise—and that will require our attention—as the genetic revolution proceeds... A much needed antidote to the current genetic hoopla.

New England Journal of Medicine - Jeffrey C. Long

A cautious look at the effects of genetic discoveries on society... The issues raised by this book are valid, and all scientists should be aware of them. I often found myself nodding in agreement.

Contemporary Sociology - Fernando I. Rivera

The authors present several thought-provoking issues in regard to prenatal genetic screening and selective abortion. It's a great contribution to the field.


This book superbly and successfully fills its purpose—to show the need for dialogue between researchers, health care professionals, communities, and individuals regarding various aspects of genetic technology.


This book superbly and successfully fills its purpose -- to show the need for dialogue between researchers, health care professionals, communities, and individuals regarding various aspects of genetic technology.

From The Critics
Reviewer: Patricia Power, MS(British Columbia Children's Hospital)
Description: This aptly named book is the collective effort of an impressive and lengthy list of contributors.
Purpose: The book reminds us of the broader implications of genetics in medicine. Although the use of technology in the understanding of human development, disease, and therapy has been brilliant, the authors revisit the bioethical and social science of genetic research. They define and redefine society, community, and the individual with strength and empathy. They approach and remark on areas of long-standing political debate and recognize the inherent complexities. This book contains an awe-inspiring amount of information and by and large fulfills its lofty aims.
Audience: The readership is limitless; the book has something for everyone and can be enjoyed by all. Given the book's objectives, the stunning and scholarly list of contributors from varied disciplines is not surprising.
Features: The book is very dense but exceptionally well written and presented. The authors address the major social and ethical themes relating to genetics in medicine. The descriptive and illustrative ideas used to convey broader dilemmas are excellent. The immensely helpful introduction is followed by chapters that are equally as strong and stand on their own. The overall quality and appearance of the book is fantastic. The uniqueness of this book lies in the comprehensive yet concise presentation of ideas and debates in a field where few books dare to go.
Assessment: This is a wonderful collaborative accomplishment. It is a success.
From The Critics
Contributors from the biological and social sciences and ethics explore some aspects of genetic research that are not discussed in the industry's glossy brochures. Among them are genetic complexity in human disease and behavior, advocacy groups, African American perspectives on genetic testing, the origins of homosexuality, and current developments in genetic discrimination. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801879265
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 12/15/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 0.69 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph S. Alper, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts. Catherine Ard, M.M.H.S., is a doctoral candidate in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Adrienne Asch, Ph.D., is the Henry Luce Professor in Biology, Ethics, and the Politics of Human Reproduction at Wellesley College. Jon Beckwith, Ph.D., is American Cancer Society Research Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School. Peter Conrad, Ph.D., is the Harry Coplan Professor of Social Sciences at Brandeis University. Lisa N. Geller, Ph.D., J.D., is an associate at Fish and Richardson, P.C., in Boston.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

List of contributors
Introduction : perspectives on perspectives 1
1 Genetic complexity in human disease and behavior 17
2 Geneticists in society, society in genetics 39
3 Genetics and behavior in the news : dilemmas of a rising paradigm 58
4 Advocacy groups and the new genetics 80
5 Invisible women : gender, genetics, and reproduction 102
6 Prenatal diagnosis and selective abortion : a challenge to practice and policy 123
7 African American perspectives on genetic testing 151
8 Genetics, race, and ethnicity : searching for differences 175
9 The origins of homosexuality : no genetic link to social change 197
10 Diversity and complexity in gay/lesbian/bisexual/transsexual responses to the "gay-gene" debates 215
11 The commercialization of genetic technologies : raising public awareness 227
12 Individual, family, and societal dimensions of genetic discrimination : a case study analysis 247
13 Current developments in genetic discrimination 267
Index 287
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