The Beginning of the End: The Role of the Media in Popularizing the Telomere Theory of Aging and Cancer

15 Feb 2012
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Crispin Barker
OHST Visiting Scholar

In the early 1990s, the ends (or telomeres) of human DNA molecules acquired clinical significance as the regulatory sites of aging and cancer. Twenty years later, they remain a newspaper and magazine staple; hardly a month goes by without a fresh round of reports. How did they make the transition from the esoteric focus of a handful of laboratories specializing in gene sequencing and molecular cytogenetics to a media sensation?

This talk explores how the hypotheses connecting DNA termini with the limited lifespan of normal cells and the immortality of cancerous ones spread from scientific journals to regional dailies to newspapers and magazines around the world, and the intersection of these narratives with the interests of the biotechnology company Geron Corporation and its collaborators in the research.


This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Office for the History of Science and Technology

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