Bio

Shobita Parthasarathy is Associate Professor of Public Policy and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan. She studies policy and politics related to science and technology, as well as the politics of evidence and expertise in policymaking, in the United States, Europe, and India. She is the author of numerous articles and two books. Her second book, Patent Politics: Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe(University of Chicago Press, 2017) compares recent controversies over life form patents in the United States and Europe and demonstrates how political culture, ideology, and history shape patent systems in fundamental ways. Her first book, Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care (MIT Press, 2007), compared the development of genetic testing for breast cancer in the United States and Britain. Findings from this book helped to inform the 2013 US Supreme Court case over gene patents.

Her new research has two dimensions. The first aims to develop a better understanding of efforts to use science and technology to alleviate poverty and inequality, with a focus on India. The second explores the global politics of knowledge regarding these efforts, in an effort to understand why and how certain approaches to technology and poverty tend to dominate discussions and recommendations by international institutions. She is a Faculty Affiliate in UM's Science, Technology, and Society and Feminist Science Studies programs, and sits on the Council of the Society for the Social Studies of Science, as well as the Governing Council of the Science and Democracy Network.

To support her research, Prof. Parthasarathy has received fellowships and grants from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition, and Tax Law (Germany), the American Bar Foundation, the Wellcome Trust (UK), the National Science Foundation, and various programs at the University of Michigan.

Earlier in her career, Prof. Parthasarathy held postdoctoral fellowships at Northwestern University, the University of California—Los Angeles, and University of Cambridge. She has also worked for the National Academy of Sciences, RAND, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the White House Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. She holds Masters and PhD degrees in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University and a Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the University of Chicago.

Project Summary

Shobita Parthasarathy is an Associate Professor of Public Policy and Women's Studies, and Director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, at University of Michigan and a former fellow at the Wilson Center. Her research focuses on the governance of ethically and socially controversial science and technology, particularly in comparative perspective. She is also interested in how technological innovation, and innovation systems, can better achieve public interest and social justice goals. She is the author of numerous articles and two books: Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care (MIT Press, 2007) and Patent Politics: Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe (University of Chicago Press, 2017). Findings from Building Genetic Medicine influenced the 2013 US Supreme Court decision prohibiting patents on isolated human genes. She has advised the US HHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society, the Austrian Genome Research Program, the European Patent Office, and the US Government Accountability Office, among other science and technology policymaking institutions. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Chicago and Masters and PhD degrees in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University. To support her research, she has received grants and fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the American Council of Learned Societies, the UK Wellcome Trust, the German Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, the American Bar Foundation, and the US National Science Foundation.

Major Publications

  • "Patent Politics: Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe," University of Chicago Press (2017)
  • "Building Genetic Medicine:Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care," Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (April 2007)
  • "Architectures of Genetic Medicine: Comparing Genetic testing for Breast Cancer in the USA and UK," Social Studies of Science.35.1 (2005): 5-40
  • "The Patent is Political: The Consequences of Patenting the BRCA Genes in Britan," Community Genetics Supplement. Vol.8 (2005): 235-242.

Books