05 Nov 14

Myles Jackson, Bosch Public Policy Fellow in the Fall 2014, explains how he has used the CCR5 gene as a heuristic tool to probe three critical developments in biotechnology from 1990 to 2010: gene patenting, HIV/AIDS diagnostics and therapeutics, and race and genomics. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Jackson ties together intellectual property, the sociology of race, and molecular biology by showing how certain patent regimes have rewarded different forms of intellectual property. The decision to patent genes was not inevitable, Jackson argues, nor ‘natural.’ Likewise, there is nothing inevitable about using race as a major category of human classification. Jackson explains the economic and political interests that provide the impetus for making those choices and explains the alternatives. As a historian, Jackson attempts to resurrect the past in order to illustrate the alternative paths not taken and explain why they were never chosen.