Northwestern Events Calendar


Daniel Navon - "Our Uncertain Eugenics: Population and Patient Dilemmas in the New Non-Invasive Prenatal Genetics"

When: Monday, April 24, 2023
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM CT

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: FREE

Contact: Janet Hundrieser   (847) 491-3525

Group: Science in Human Culture Program - Klopsteg Lecture Series

Category: Lectures & Meetings



Daniel Navon, University of California - San Diego


"Our Uncertain Eugenics: Population and Patient Dilemmas in the New Non-Invasive Prenatal Genetics"


In barely more than a decade, non-invasive prenatal genetic testing (NIPT) has gone from biotech fantasy to a multi-billion-dollar industry available to most pregnant people in the US. This talk explores a series of overlooked social and ethical issues raised by the rapid expansion of NIPT screening. NIPT kits now often screen for a range of less well-understood conditions—like the Trisomy X, XYY, or 22q11.2 deletion syndromes—that are quite common, widely underdiagnosed, and include an untold number of mildly affected people. Many thousands of expectant parents will therefore have to grapple with true positive results that are at once undoubtedly serious and deeply uncertain. I draw on the history of prenatal genetic testing, and modern human genetics more broadly, to develop theoretical parameters for understanding: 1) how the burgeoning NIPT market will unfold; 2) how the deeply personal reproductive choices afforded by NIPT screening may unleash a new “secondary eugenics” with a cascade of complex, socially-patterned effects at the population level; 3) the very specific eugenic and social movement implications for communities and advocacy groups dedicated to genetic disorders.


Daniel Navon received his undergraduate MA in philosophy from the University of Edinburgh and his MA, MPhil and Phd in sociology from Columbia University. His primary areas of research are the sociology of science and knowledge/STS, comparative-historical sociology, social theory, medical sociology and qualitative methods.

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