Managing Uncertainty in Biomedical Innovation from Below. Exploring Tensions and Contradictions in Oncology and Pregnancy Cases

Barbara Morsello, Veronica Moretti


Abstract: The contribution originates from Track 1, “Genetics and biomedical innovation: Between risky and promising scenarios”, held within the VIII STS Italia conference. The session was intended to promote reflection on the implications of the latest innovations in genetic research and molecular biology for the formation of new care practices, as well as new surveillance and risk management. The objective of the paper is to highlights the contradictions and ambivalence that may rise from biomedical innovation through analysing two specific cases: 1) off-label practice in the context of rare disease in oncology and 2) pre-natal screening technology and surveillance practices. In both cases, these biomedical innovations, although very promising, produced high uncertainty, and the technologies and/or processes developed to cope with the ‘unknown’ were challenging. However, at the same time, tensions and contradictions were observed that originated unexpected practices ‘from below’. In particular, the following section is focused on the ambivalence that has increasingly taken root in the management of risks related to health with respect to individual contributions and to research and scientific work practices.

Keywords: Biomedical research; genomics; digital pregnancy; selfsurveillance; off-label.

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