Huntington Society of Canada Conference 2010

I know this is a bit short notice, but the Huntington’s Society of Canada is hosting their annual conference in Edmonton. Starting today (Thursday) at 7:30 pm at the Sutton Place Hotel, the conference will attempt to highlight both the current research around Huntington disease and the lived experience of those with Huntington. Continue reading

Genetic Testing: School of Human Development Inaugural Interdisciplinary Event

This debate revolves around the theme of genetic testing, and features Dr. Dawna Gilchrist, the head of the History of Medicine program, and Dr. Francois Bernier from the Calgary Medical Genetics clinic. The event will take place on Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 5:00 pm at the Katz Building (room 1080).

Should genetic testing be used for treatment or for management?

Here’s the link to the event:

O cursed spite/ That ever I was born to set it right!

I recently had a chance to listen to a question and answer session posted on the What Sorts blog. This Q&A session followed a lecture by Martin Tweedale about the removal of John MacEachran’s portrait from the conference room in the Department of Psychology. MacEachran was the first head of what was then the Department of Philosophy and Psychology and was later Provost of the University of Alberta. He was also a major proponent of sexual sterilization and was the Chairman of the Alberta Eugenics Board from the Board’s inception in 1928 up until he resigned in 1965. In the late 1990s, a portrait of MacEachran in the Department of Psychology conference room at the U of A was removed. In the words of Douglas Wahlsten, a psychology professor who instigated the motion to remove the portrait, “We decided to remove MacEachran’s name from our conference room because we felt that the questions raised about his conduct were inconsistent with the honours the university had previously bestowed on him.”

After listening to the exchange between Professor Griener and Professor Tweedale, I started thinking more closely about how we ought to address issues of historical injustice. I think one of the more challenging aspects of the debate is the idea that by removing the name of an important figure in history from an award we are guilty of a kind of moral self-righteousness. As William Graham wrote in a letter to the Folio in 1997, “Although most in society today would consider compulsory sterilization abhorrent, the view was apparently different a couple of generations ago.” By wiping away MacEachran’s name, we have bowed to current ideas of acceptability (or so the argument goes). Continue reading