SpeakersP:rof Giuseppe Testa, Molecular Medicine, Lab for Stem Cell Epigenetics, Milano
University of Exeter,Egenis, Byrne House,St Germans Road,Exeter, EX4 4PJ
Room no: GF7, Byrne House
Time: 3:30 - 5:00 PM
Title: "Which cells for which citizens? Redrawing lineages in the public sphere"
The last two decades have witnessed a remarkable increase in our understanding of the molecular basis of cell fate and hence in our capacity to manipulate cell lineages in several organisms. Through these advances the early phases of human embryonic development are now at the crossroad of two main trajectories: a generative one, exemplified in assisted reproduction in all of its flavors, and a regenerative one aimed at harnessing embryonic stem cells to understand and cure diseases. I take as point of departure my work on the key factors that establish cell lineages. Together with the results from several strands of research, these latest developments in epigenetics blur the boundaries between cell lineages and bring a final challenge to the concept of ‘cell potency’ as it is routinely deployed in ethical arguments. Importantly, by blurring lineage boundaries, these developments also question the regenerative/generative divide that has so far stabilized the ethicaland legal accommodation of assisted reproduction in our societies, as exemplified by the possibility to derive gametes from embryonic stem cells.Drawing from a host of examples, I will highlight the main discursive and legal tools that are emerging to cope with this paradigm shift in the biology of cell fate. This survey will form the basis to advance a theoretical and practical framework aimed at accommodating the newly found options of our tissues and at rethinking the notions of kinship and citizenship in today’s democracies.