Myles W. Jackson to Confront Questions of Genes, Patents, and Race in Debut IAS Public Lecture

Panel Discussion to Feature Professor Emeritus Arnold J. Levine

Press Contact

Lee Sandberg

Myles W. Jackson, newly appointed Professor in the School of Historical Studies will give his first IAS public lecture, "Genes, Patents, and Race: The History of Science as a Bridge Between Disciplines" on Friday, October 26 at 5:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall with special guest, Professor Emeritus Arnold J. Levine from the School of Natural Sciences, Biology.

Jackson will discuss how the history of science can contribute to two controversial aspects of biomedical research: gene patenting and race and genomics. He will confront questions including: how has gene patenting challenged the content and conduct of scientific research? Does it pose a threat to knowledge sharing? And can someone’s “race” be determined by her or his genome? What are the sociopolitical ramifications if it can? And what are they if it cannot? Historians of science can illustrate that neither gene patenting nor basing human classification on race is inevitable: there always have been alternatives. Much is at stake.

An eminent and authoritative explorer of the intersections between science, technology, aesthetics, history, and society, Jackson combines intellectual curiosity with the highest academic standards to push forward the boundaries of the field in significant and influential ways and to establish fresh lines of inquiry. His scholarship, which interweaves economic, commercial, and scientific insights, has had lasting impact and is noted for its cross-disciplinary methodology and range of study—from the artisanal production of scientific knowledge in nineteenth-century Germany to issues of intellectual property, knowledge sharing, race and genomics, the interactions between musicians, natural scientists, and radio engineers, and bioengineering in recent decades. As part of this lecture, he will discuss his role with the ACLU in opposing breast cancer gene patents in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Levine, who will speak about recent advances in immunotherapy treatment of breast cancer, is a widely acclaimed leader in cancer research. In 1979, Levine and others discovered the p53 tumor suppressor protein, a molecule that inhibits tumor development. He established the Simons Center for Systems Biology at the Institute, which concentrates on research at the interface of molecular biology and the physical sciences: on genetics and genomics, polymorphisms and molecular aspects of evolution, signal transduction pathways and networks, stress responses, and pharmacogenomics in cancer biology.

This event will take place on Friday, October 26, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall. Admission is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register for this event, visit For press interested in covering the event, please contact Lee Sandberg at For more information on public lectures and events at the Institute, visit