Social aspects of biotechnology

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
MED/02 SECS-P/02
Learning objectives
Provide foundational elements from the main disciplines engaged in the societal appraisal of biotechnology (Science and Technology Studies, Bioethics, Biolaw, Biopolitics. Endow students with key methodological resources to develop their crtitical inquiry of current interwined developments in biotechnological and societal innovation.
To supply students with the basic concepts in relation to: i) healthcare service demand and supply; ii) the application of microeconomic theory to the market for healthcare goods and services; iii) public intervention in the market for healthcare services; iv) Italy's National Health Service and how it operates; v) efficiency and equity in accessing healthcare services; vi) basics of Health Technology Assessment; vii) fundaments of accounting
Expected learning outcomes
Broad awareness of the most relevant intersections between biotechnological and societal innovation
Knowledge and hands-on experience with the most relevant methodological toolkit to analytically dissect those intersections Hand-on training on key skills for the rising demand of new professionals at the interface between biotechnology and society, including industry, bioethics committees, regulatory authorities, public engagement NGOs etc.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First trimester
Prerequisites for admission
There are no specific pre-requisites apart from a basic knowledge of algebraic computing.
Assessment methods and Criteria
Bioethics and STS:
Oral exam (vote range: in trentesimi), composed of two parts. (i) Preparation of a presentation on a case study, in which the student (either individually or as part of a team in which her/his contribution is clearly distinguishable) must prove his/her grasp of the field and of the key methodologies used to disentangle the questions at hand. (ii) Questions on the reference texts (along with specific articles and book chapters that will be suggested for each individual lecture).
The examination is divided into two parts:
1. Written questionnaire consisting of 30 questions and exercises covering the entire program developed during the course (duration 90 minutes);
2. Oral interview with the aim of assessing the student's ability to sustain an elementary discussion on health economics (duration about 20 minutes).

In order to access the oral test it is necessary to obtain a score equal to or higher than 18 on the written questionnaire. The interview can take place at the end of the written test or later.
Economical politics
Course syllabus
Introduction - Health, healthcare and economic principles;
The concept of efficiency in the allocation of resources and its application to the healthcare sector;
Determinants of health and demand for health: the Grossman model;
Uncertainty and insurance: the problem of adverse selection and moral hazard;
Private goods, public goods and merit goods;
How to govern the healthcare expenditure;
Equity and efficiency in the healthcare sector;
Fundaments of Health Technology Assessment;
The Italian NHS;
Healthcare Systems: different OECD countries' models;
The accounting system in a Hospital; the hospital budget; the use of Diagnoses Related Groups; the contractual model with the separation purchaser/provider of healthcare services.
Teaching methods
The teacher makes use of frontal lessons. Teaching materials (slide sets, articles) are made available to the students.
Teaching Resources
Folland S, Goodman AC, Miron S. The Economics of Health and Health Care (8th edition).Routledge, 2017
Rascati Karen L. Essential of Pharmacoeconomics. 2nd edition. Lippincot Williams & Wilkins.
Masiero P. Princípi di economia e di economia sanitaria. 2015. McGraw Hill.
Drummond MF, Sculpher MJ, Claxton K, Stoddart GL, Torrance GW. Methods for the Economic Evaluation in Health Care Programmes (4th edition). Oxford University Press, 2015
History of medicine
Course syllabus
Bioethics: introduction to the field and its key methodologies;
Science and Technology Studies: introduction to the field and its key methodologies
Biocapital and biolabor: historical antecedents and the landscape of the current bioeconomy
Analysis of exemplary junctures of sociotecnical innovation in and around the life sciences:
1) Assisted reproduction technologies and genome engineering
2) Digitization of living processes and their implication for regenerative and precision medicine
3) Digitization of living processes and their implication for personal data flow and management
4) Digitization of living processes and their implication for synthetic biology
5) The use of animals
6) The governance of scientific research integrity
7) Property rights and the human body
8) Human bioenhancements: policy perspectives
9) Human genetic variation, classification and "race": the biological and social sides of the debate.
Teaching methods
Lecture's attendance is mandatory. Course materials are made available to students, along with recommended books.
For the part on Science & Technology Studies (STS), lectures aim at providing the foundational elements of STS as one of the main fields of research engaged in the societal appraisal of biotechnology, in order to endow students with key methodological resources to develop their critical inquiry of current intertwined developments in biotechnological and societal innovation. Besides providing the theoretical underpinnings of STS, the course will bring them to bear on the analysis of major controversies and case studies in biomedicine and biotechnology. Course material will be uploaded to Ariel.

Part A: The first part of the course provides an introduction to foundational tenets of the field of Science & Technology Studies (STS), as well as to a relevant subset of its main analytic frameworks, such as:
· Co-production
· Sociotechnical imaginaries
· Governance of biomedical innovation
· Bioconstitutionalism

Part B: STS in theory and practice. The second part focuses on exemplary case studies and socio-political controversies within the landscape of contemporary biotechnology. Topics include:
· Genome editing
· Digital health
· Biocapital, clinical labour and the rise of the bioeconomy
Teaching Resources
Nowotny H. and Testa G., Naked Genes. Reinventing the Human in the Molecular Age, MIT Press
Jasanoff, S Designs on nature, Pinceton
Gottweiss, H. Governing Molecules. The discursive Politics of Genetic Engineering in Europe and the United States MIT Press
Jasanoff, S. (Ed.), Reframing Rights. Bioconstitutionalism in the Genetic Age MIT Press
Cooper M and Waldby C Clinical Labor. Tissue Donors and Research Subjects nin the Global Bioeconomy Duke University Press
Economical politics
SECS-P/02 - ECONOMIC POLICY - University credits: 5
Lessons: 35 hours
Professor: Casadei Gianluigi
History of medicine
MED/02 - MEDICAL HISTORY - University credits: 6
Lessons: 42 hours