Socio-economics of Personalized Medicine in Asia (Hardback) book cover

Socio-economics of Personalized Medicine in Asia

By Shirley Sun

© 2017 – Routledge

198 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2016-07-07
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About the Book

The second decade of the twenty-first century has witnessed a surging interest in personalized medicine with the concomitant promise to enable more precise diagnosis and treatment of disease and illness, based upon an individual’s unique genetic makeup.

In this book, my goal is to contribute to a growing body of literature on personalized medicine by tracing and analyzing how this field has blossomed in Asia. In so doing, I aim to illustrate how various social and economic forces shape the co-production of science and social order in global contexts. This book shows that there are inextricable transnational linkages between developing and developed countries and also provides a theoretically guided and empirically grounded understanding of the formation and usage of particular racial and ethnic human taxonomies in local, national and transnational settings.


"This is a major contribution to the ongoing debate about the relationship between "personalized medicine" and "racialized medicine". Dr. Sun documents how in practice, the two are far more integrated than previous analysts have recognized or acknowledged. Using an international platform, Sun demonstrates how Asian geneticists (Japanese, Chinese, Singaporean, Korean, et al), in a pushback against US-European domination of human molecular genetics, are often inadvertently re-inscribing ethnic and racial categories generated in the West."—Troy Duster, author of Backdoor to Eugenics, Chancellor's Professor, University of California, Berkeley

"A highly timely counter-weight to the dominance of works on this topic from North America and Europe, Shirley Sun's brilliant and sobering analysis of 'probability medicine' in Singapore will make even the most reflective reader think about the global implications of genomic medicine differently." —Barbara Prainsack, Professor at Social Science, Health and Medicine of King’s College London, U.K.

"This book addresses a critical but understudied topic: personalized medicine within the context of Asia. Asian countries are key leaders in the move towards personalized medicine, but as the author points out, historically personalized medicine has been viewed through a Western centric focus. The findings also have implications for the large Asian population residing in the US and other countries. The book is engaging to read and insightful in its interpretations. I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the global context of the emerging trend towards personalized, precision medicine and how it will change the future of health care." —Kathryn Phillips, Professor of Health Economics and Health Services Research at the University of California, San Francisco, and Founder/Director of the UCSF Center for Translational and Policy Research on Personalized Medicine (TRANSPERS)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Resisting Being "Othered": Regionalism, Nationalism, and the Racialization of Ethnicity in Asia

3. Capitalizing on being "Othered": Precision Medicine and Race in the Context of a Globalized Pharmaceutical Industry

4. Managing "Otherness": Genomic Medicine and Public Health Policy in Singapore

5. Cancer Genomics in Clinics

6. Socio-economic Factors and Ethical Dilemmas in Personalized Medicine Provision

7. Conclusion: Possibilities and Challenges of Personalized Medicine in Asia

About the Author

Shirley Sun is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Her main research interests are population studies, social inequalities, citizenship and immigration, economic development and social reproduction, and science, technology and society.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the Sociology of Health and Illness

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General