Barbara Prainsack



Prof. Dr. phil. Barbara Prainsack

Title of Presentation

“Personalised and “precision” medicine: Will societies benefit?”


Date and Place

Session: Plenary P3 / Sep 15th talk in main topic PATIENTS


Speaker Biography

Barbara Prainsack is Professor at the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine at King’s College London, and an Honorary Senior Research Associate at the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, St Thomas’ Hospital, King’s College London. A political scientist by background, Barbara’s research addresses the regulatory, social, and ethical dimensions of bioscience, biomedicine, and forensics, with a special focus on DNA testing and database governance.

Barbara has published widely on these topics. Her latest book publications are Genetics as Social Practice – Transdisciplinary Views on Science and Culture  (Ashgate, 2014; ed. with S. Schicktanz and G. Werner-Felmayer) and Solidarity in Biomedicine and Beyond (with A. Buyx; forthcoming with Cambridge University Press). Barbara is also involved in policy-related work: She is a member of the Austrian Bioethics Commission advising the federal government in Vienna; a member of the Ethics Group of the National DNA Database in the UK, and she led the European Science Foundation’s (ESF) Forward Look on ‘Personalised Medicine for the European Citizen’ from 2011-2012, with A. Palotie and S. Holgate. She is also a Senior Editor of the 2nd Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences (Elsevier, publication date 2015), and a Fellow of the British Royal Society of Arts..



This talk focuses on the societal dimensions of personalised and “precision” medicine. It discusses four argues key challenges that personalised medicine poses for public policy: Governing data use, controlling the information spill, and creating infrastructures and conditions to that will help to close the interpretation gap; the fourth and most fundamental challenge is for personalised medicine to help decrease, rather than increase, health inequities. I will argue that a seemingly old concept can help us address most of these challenges, namely the concept is solidarity. Not only is solidarity more important than ever as a structuring principle for healthcare systems, but it can also offer concrete guidelines for policies and governance in specific contexts of practice.