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Autumn Colloquium - Dorothy E. Roberts
WhenFriday, Oct 11, 2019, 3:30 – 5 p.m.
Campus locationStudent Union Building (HUB)
Campus roomHUB 250
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsThe Benjamin Rabinowitz Endowment in Medical Ethics; the Department of Philosophy; the Program on Ethics; and the School of Public Health.

Location: HUB 250

“Mistreating Health Inequities in the Genomic Age”
(Keynote: Benjamin Rabinowitz Symposium in Medical Ethics)

Dorothy E. Roberts, J.D.
George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology
University of Pennsylvania

The medical profession has long defined disease and treated patients according to race.  Although doctors and researchers defend this practice as benefitting patients, the racial concept of disease has legitimated racial discrimination in medicine, biomedical research, and social institutions; supported harmful stereotypes about biological differences; and masked the continuing impact of racism on our bodies and society.  The map of the human genome confirmed that race is not written in our genes, yet some genomic and biomedical scientists are re-creating race in biological terms and advocating gene-based solutions to health disparities. Thus, biological ideologies about race, individual biases, and structural inequalities work together to promote injustice in health care. Instead, health justice requires affirming our common humanity by working to end social inequities supported by the political system of race.

Dorothy Roberts is the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and George A. Weiss University Professor of Law & Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School, where she is the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights. She is also the founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science, and Society. An internationally recognized scholar, public intellectual, and social justice advocate, she has written and lectured extensively on the interplay of gender, race, and class in U.S. institutions and has been a leader in transforming public thinking and policy on reproductive health, child welfare, and bioethics. She is the author of Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Random House/Pantheon, 1997; Twentieth Anniversary Edition, Vintage, 2017), Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books/Civitas, 2002), and Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century (New Press 2011), as well as co-editor of six books. She has also published more than 100 articles and essays in books and scholarly journals. Her TEDTalk, “The Problem with Race-Based Medicine,” has been viewed more than one million times.

Roberts’s research has been supported by fellowships from American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Brocher Foundation, Harvard University Program in Ethics and the Professions, Stanford Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Northwestern Institute for Policy Research, and the Fulbright Program. She has served on the boards of directors of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, the Black Women’s Health Imperative, and the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, on the advisory boards of the Center for Genetics and Society, Generations Ahead, and Still She Rises, on the founding organizing committee of Symbioses: A Biosocial Research Network, and on the Standards Working Group of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Recent recognitions for her scholarship and public service include 2016 Society of Family Planning Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016 Harvard Women’s Law Association “Women Inspiring Change,” 2016 Tanner Lectures on Human Values, and 2015 American Psychiatric Association Solomon Carter Fuller Award. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, a fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and a fellow of the Hastings Center.

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