Are you concerned about the social consequences of new genetic technologies and research?

The Genetics and Society Working Group welcomes new members who would like to explore these issues and participate in related projects.

We meet twice a month to work on projects and critically examine current literature on subjects such as human behavior genetics research, genetic studies on ethnic and racial groups, and the marketing of genetic tests and their federal regulation.

Projects have included:

  • A conference on race, genetics, and medicine
  • A book and numerous articles

    A book authored by members of the GSWG
    A book authored by members of the GSWG
  • School curricular material
  • Participation in workshop for the public on genetic issues at Boston’s Museum of Science.

Current interests include:

  1. Analysis of premature marketing of genetic tests and efforts to limit misleading and inappropriate claims
  2. Exploration of the social impact of behavioral genetic research such as that on antisocial behavior
  3. Participation in “science pubs.”

For more information, please see gswg-poster or contact us here.

Who are we?

Our members include faculty, students, and others from biology, chemistry, sociology, ethics, law and education.


Dr. Jon Beckwith is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School. He has been active since the late 1960s in writing and speaking about the misuse of genetics and, wince the 1980s, has been teaching a course on Science and Social Justice to undergrad and graduate students.


Dr. Amy Vashlishan Murray is an Associate Professor of Science at Emerson College in Boston, a liberal arts school devoted to communication and the arts. In the laboratory, Amy uses genetic approaches to study the way chemicals in the brain influence long-lasting changes in behavioral state like mood, appetite, and motivation.  Working closely with talented Emerson undergraduates and a local community of early career research scientists, Amy also pursues a passion for addressing communication barriers between scientists, the media, and the public. She has established a Science Communication Collaborative that partners scientists and future artists and communicators for mutual communication training and has worked to build a foundation for Sense About Science’s “Ask for Evidence” campaign in the US.  She is a member of COPUS (the Coalition for the Public Understanding of Science) and is the recipient of their Paul Shin Memorial Award honoring the unsung heroes of science communication and engagement.



Dr. Sheldon Krimsky is Lenore Stern Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Department of  Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning in the School of Arts & Sciences and Adjunct Professor in Public Health and Community  Medicine in the School of Medicine at Tufts University. His research focuses on the linkages between science/technology, ethics/values and public policy. He has authored, co-authored or edited 14 books and published over 200 papers and reviews that have appeared in:  JAMA, Nature, Nature Genetics, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Medicine, NEJM, American Journal of Bioethics among others. His books include: Genetic Alchemy; Agricultural Biotechnology & the Environment; Biotechnics & Society, Genetic Justice (Gold Medal winner from Independent Publishers); Hormonal Chaos: The Origins of the Environmental Endocrine Hypthesis and The GMO Deception. His latest book is titled Stem Cell Dialogues: A Philosphical and Scientific Inquiry into Medical Frontiers. Professor Krimsky served on the National Institutes of Health’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee from 1978-1981. He was a consultant to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and to the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. He is Board and Founding member of the Council for Responsible Genetics, Fellow of the AAAS and the Hastings Center.