June 2, 1997
Monica J. Casper
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Monica Casper is a medical sociologist specializing in women's health and cultural studies of science and technology. Her dissertation, for which she received awards from the American Sociological Association and UC San Francisco, is a historical analysis of the emergence of fetal surgery. Used to correct structural defects like blocked urinary tracts and diaphragmatic hernias, fetal surgery is still an experimental procedure. Controversy has arisen around the status of the fetus, with anti-abortion groups becoming outspoken advocates of the costly and high-risk procedure. Casper's dissertation is forthcoming as a book from Rutgers University Press. Casper has also explored social and ethical issues around the discovery of genes that cause some forms of breast cancer, and she has researched the availability and accuracy of the Pap smear, which is used to detect cervical cancer. Future projects include exploring the relationship between the environment and health and studying the role of the life sciences in the space program. Casper earned her Ph.D. at UCSF and was a postdoctoral fellow with the Program in Genomics, Ethics, and Society at Stanford University's Center for Biomedical Ethics.
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