Sheffield Café Scientifique

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May Cafe - 'From Papanicolau to Papilloma – the Corporatisation of Diagnostic Innovation'

Monday 12th May at 7.00 pm.
Location: Showroom Cafe Area, Showroom Cinema, Paternoster Row, Sheffield
Speaker: Dr  Stuart Hogarth

When cancer screening began in the USA in the early twentieth century it was a public health initiative driven by physicians, charities, government agencies and women’s advocacy organisations. By the late twentieth century it had become a billion dollar business dominated by large corporations. In this talk I use cervical cancer screening as a case study to show how growth in that commercial enterprise is now being fuelled by a new wave of molecular screening tests. I contrast the development of the Pap smear in the first half of the twentieth century with the development of a rival molecular technology in the late twentieth century: DNA diagnostics for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). I will describe how the changing role of industry in diagnostic innovation is linked to the adoption of new business models and to commercial strategies characteristic of big pharma (including consumer advertising, funding of patient advocacy groups and the recruitment of key opinion leaders). This process of corporatisation poses important questions about what constitutes responsible innovation in diagnostics.