Item – Thèses Canada

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Miller, Fiona Alice,1964-
A blueprint for defining health :making medical genetics in Canada, c. 1935-1975.
Ph. D. -- York University, 2000
Ottawa :National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada,[2001]
5 microfiches
Includes bibliographical references.
This project explores the making of medical genetics through analysis of two research communities in Ontario, Canada--Toronto and London. I examine the research of Toronto workers from the mid-1930s through the 1960s, and of London workers in the 1950s and 1960s. I also examine the efforts of these workers to consolidate institutional structures locally and nationally, and generate genetic services through the 1970s. Medical genetics developed at the intersection of the research university and the research hospital. It drew financial support, collaborators, diseased and anomalous bodies, and distinct traditions of knowledge from these two domains--the biological, and the medical. While medical genetics was initiated in the inter-war and war-time years, it remained marginal until after the Second World War when the field participated in the expansion of biomedicine. Growth was further aided by disciplinary consolidation in North America, beginning in the late 1940s, which merged Canadian and US workers. In the inter-war and war-time years, human and medical genetics was a minor undertaking in North America. The marginality of the Toronto community was symbolized and sustained by the social relations and symbolism of gender: the preponderance of women workers, the 'backwardness' of Canadian science, and the reliance upon a relatively neglected research tool--dermatoglyphics, or the study of skin patterns on the hands and feet. Toronto workers nonetheless built a robust indigenous tradition of research, concerned with the influences of both environment and heredity in disease causation. After the war, workers in Toronto and London were integrated into the wider community of human and medical geneticists. Yet extant traditions of workplace organization, technical skill and disease management were still relevant. The making of the sex chromosome anomalies drew on the London community's expertise with the sex chromatin and the intersex, and Toronto workers drew on their expertise with the 'Mongol' (as the condition was called) and dermatoglyphics in making sense of the autosome anomalies. Finally, the coordination and reorganization of medical genetics locally, provincially and nationally in the 1960s and 1970s was informed by both local and generic approaches to genetic science and genetic disease.