Capturing Complexity: The Scientific, Societal, and Ethical Meanings of "Environment" in Genetic Research

Friday May 9, 2008
Clark Center Auditorium, 318 Campus Drive
Stanford University

The Center for Integration of Research on Genetics and Ethics and the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics is hosting a half day public symposium on ethical, societal, and policy considerations in defining the E in gene-environment interaction studies. The event will be Friday May 9, 2008. Any questions should be directed to Jen McCormick (

A key question that the symposium will address is how “environment” is conceptualized, measured, and operationalized in the study of complex traits. While there is greater recognition of the complexity of gene-environment interaction and its influence on human behavior, there remain conceptual issues with how environment and gene-environment interactions are defined and practical issues in how complexity can be captured. There have been calls within many literatures for the need for more interdisciplinary and integrative approaches to finding solutions to this problem, such as the National Academies report Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment: Moving Beyond the Nature/Nuture Debate. This public symposium is an attempt to raise awareness of the "environment problem,” and to bring together scholars across the academy to imagine and discuss how the “environment problem” can be approached.

Over the course of an afternoon, invited speakers will make brief presentations responding to targeted questions, interspersed with moderator-led discussions among groups of speakers and the audience.