Parthasarathy profiled: why we need to diversify expertise

January 5, 2021 Public Books

In a Public Books Public Thinker profileShobita Parthasarathy discusses what drew her to science and technology policy, gene patents and testing, COVID-19, and the role of diversity and activism in science/technology to regain public trust. 

In reference to why we need to diversify expertise, she said, "We have African American communities who have been hurt by—and therefore are distrustful of—the medical establishment, the technical establishment, for decades...There is something wrong with the way that we define expertise. Whose knowledge and expertise matters for the purposes of policy and public health is too limited. It doesn’t include enough alternative voices who can offer deep kinds of knowledge about, for example, these communities. It doesn’t offer contextual understanding of different people’s worlds that is related to scientific and technical expertise. Technical expertise does not equal social wisdom."

Parthasarathy goes on to argue that more extensive community engagement to augment technical expertise will help us battle COVID-19.

The Q&A also covers some of Parthasarathy's public engagement and impact on policy, including how her first book, Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer Technology and the Comparative Politics of Health Care, was cited in Supreme Court litigation over human gene patents. 

Read the profile in Public Books.