PATIENT GROUPS IN HEALTH POLICY MAKING
While there are clear benefits for patient groups to accept industry funding (often from the pharmaceutical industry), some research suggests the autonomy and integrity of patient groups may be compromised by financial relationships with commercial actors. This project focuses on the experiences of patient groups advocating for the public funding of in vitro fertilization to identify how they work to navigate these relationships and engage in ongoing advocacy to establish and (where applicable) to maintain funding. Using cross-provincial data, it also identifies varied approaches in different provinces, and the outcomes for both patient groups and provincial health policy.
ALTRUISM AND VACCINE TRIAL MOTIVATION
There is an extensive literature that demonstrates that individuals are motivated to participate in clinical trials for a variety of reasons, which include financial compensation, a sense of duty, curiosity, health benefits, boredom, and a concern for public health, amongst others. Little is known, however, about the motivations of participants in clinical trials for vaccines, which typically require healthy volunteers and offer inoculation as the only health benefit to be gained. This research, led by Katharine Browne and conducted in collaboration with NTE Impact Ethics and the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology examines the motivations of healthy participants in two Phase I vaccine clinical trials. Combining empirical (survey) research and philosophical approaches, it identifies what factors motivate participation in vaccine clinical trials, their relative importance for trial participants, and the sociopolitical importance of altruism in vaccine trial participation.
CHEMICAL EXPOSURES AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
As certain classes of household chemicals (namely brominated flame retardants and phthalates) are ubiquitous in our homes and workplaces, the adverse effects of exposure on reproductive health are becoming apparent. Focusing on torts and criminal law, this project emphasizes the shortcomings of Canadian jurisprudence in addressing intergenerational reproductive harms, and works to offer alternative strategies. (in collaboration with Roxanne Mykitiuk, Jennie Haw, Lara Tessaro, and Mark Pioro, as part of two team grants funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on the reproductive effects of exposures to brominated flame retardants and phthalates).
GOVERNING EMBRYO RESEARCH IN CANADA
Embryos remaining after in vitro fertilization are often cryopreserved—frozen—for potential future use. In Canada, there are important regulations governing consent to use these embryos to build one’s own family, or for a variety of other reasons, including donating to another family, clinical training, clinical research, and “science.” This project drew on interview research with participants from three clinic sites, as well as surveys with lab directors to identify views and perceptions about the use of surplus cryopreserved embryos. It included a number of policy interventions to address the socio-political challenges that these embryos raise, namely that many are left in storage indefinitely, with both patients and infertility clinics concerned about the legal and ethical implications of disposal. (in collaboration with NTE Impact Ethics and Dave Snow)
CONSUMING INTIMACIES: BODIES, LABOUR, CARE, AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
Through the commercialization of body parts, fluids, tissues, and care work, there are important ways in which intimate exchanges are increasingly viewed as acts of labour. Consuming Intimacies brings together an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars and artists working on body studies, social reproduction, and the commercialization of the body. Together, these scholars are examining the concepts and practices of intimacies and corporeal exchange as they are imagined as labour, that is, as productive contributions to a market economy. (in collaboration with Andrea Doucet, Robyn Lee, Lindsey McKay, and funded by the Social Justice Research Institute at Brock University).
The gendered nature of online scholarly production, and information technology more broadly, is an important site for contemporary feminist interventions. This project examines how feminist epistemologies can contribute to the rethinking of networked technologies in terms of equity and social justice. Inspired by groups like FemTechNet and the Orlando Project, it takes a range of approaches—examining Wikipedia as a site for feminist research and pedagogy, identifying the challenges of engaging young feminists in a model committed to conventional scholarly projects, the (feminist) political economy of open access publishing, and new research on the assumptions about culture and gender built into archetypal explanations of public key cryptography (Alice, Bob, and Eve). (in collaboration with Quinn DuPont and Rise Up! A Digital Archive of Canadian Feminism).