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Genes and Development. Interacting Processes or Hierarchical
New Theoretical Approaches to Developmental Biology and their Ethical
Conference Dates: March 19 – 20, 1999
Location: University of Basel, Switzerland.
Conference Language: English
The conference is organized by the Institute for the History and Ethics
of Medicine, University of Basel, in connection with the Research
Project : “Genome and Organism” (Christoph Rehmann-Sutter and Eva M.
Neumann-Held), supported by the Foundation “Mensch-Gesellschaft-Umwelt”,
and in collaboration with the “Schweizerische Gesellschaft für
biomedizinische Ethik SGBE-SSEB” and the “European Academy for the Study
of Consequences of Scientific and Technological Advance”
Current results in molecular and developmental biology challenge
traditional concepts of genes, genomes and organisms. The picture
emerging from experimental results in the developmental branch of
molecular genetics is more and more at odds with a hierarchical,
DNA-centered interpretation resulting from the classical hereditary
approach. Traditional metaphors like that of the “genetic program” for
the development of an organism, have been objects of ideological
controversy in bio-philosophy for quite a while. Now it seems, however,
that they have to undergo some thorough revision for scientific reasons.
Developmental genetics might call for a more organismic and more
integrated approach and for a reassessment of nothing less than the role
of DNA. There are reasons for looking for a new conceptualization of the
relationships between chromosomes, developmental information and the
developing organisms. This interdisciplinary symposium aims at an
evaluation of new theoretical approaches in this field, approaches that
are directed toward an integration of genetics and developmental
The questions to be discussed arise from theoretical, philosophical and
ethical issues. They include: What is an organism in relation to its
genes? What are genes in relation to life? What is life in relation to
DNA-protein-interactions in developing cellular systems? What is the
theoretical and the ontological status of the “organism”? Which impacts
has a transformed scientific description of life?
Speakers will include: Markus Affolter (Basel), Brian Goodwin (London),
James Griesemer (Davis), Paul Griffiths (Sydney), Mathias Gutmann
(Bad-Neuenahr-Ahrweiler), Evelyn Fox Keller (Boston), Gerd Mueller
(Wien), Eva M. Neumann-Held (Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler), Susan Oyama (New
York), Jackie Leach Scully (Basel), Christoph Rehmann-Sutter (Basel).
Further informations are available. Please contact:
Institut fuer Geschichte und Ethik der Medizin
“Genes and Development”
FAX: +41-61-267 31 90
E-mail: [log in to unmask]
Registration before Feb. 15, 1998
fee: sfr. 160 or $US 110 (students sfr. 80 or $US 55) includes
coffee/tee and cookies; meals and accomodation extra.