Past Event

The Promise and Challenge of Precision Medicine: An Interdisciplinary Conversation

February 18, 2016
5:15 PM - 8:30 PM
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Low Memorial Library, Columbia University, 535 West 116th Street, New York
Photo of a stethoscope


  • David Goldstein, PhD, Professor of Genetics and Development and Director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine, Columbia University
  • Jonathan Metzl, MD, PhD, Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry and  Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, Vanderbilt University


  • Rachel Adams, PhD, Professor of English and American Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Social Difference, Columbia University
  • Ronald Bayer, PhD, Professor of Sociomedical Sciences,  Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
  • Yaniv Erlich, PhD, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University
  • Gil Eyal, PhD, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Columbia University
  • Kathryn Tabb, PhD, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

Moderator: Alondra Nelson, PhD, Dean of Social Science and Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, Columbia University

Precision Medicine is an approach to disease and treatment that takes into account an individual’s genetic makeup, environment, and life history to better tailor medical care for each patient. The promise of this type of personalized healthcare is significant, ranging from early-intervention and prevention, to reduced side effects, improved outcomes, and lower mortality. Yet, important questions surround the implementation of precision medicine on a large scale, in regards to the collection and use of personal data, patient rights, disparities in access to care, and the benefits and expense of customized procedures, among others..

This symposium and panel will open with a biomedical-focused introduction to precision medicine by David Goldstein, followed by responses from Columbia faculty from five different disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. These respondents will highlight some of the big questions surrounding precision medicine concerning the ethical, social, economic, and legal implications of advancing this research, and demonstrate how research in their fields can address these questions. The event will conclude with a panel discussion and presentation from Jonathan Metzl, who will share some cross-disciplinary insights from the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University.

Free and open to the public. Registration required; please RSVP on the website.