Associate Professor and Interim Department Head, Department of Women, Children and Family Health Science, College of Nursing, University of Illinois at Chicago
“Invisible and in the Spotlight: Situating Sickle Cell Disease in our Teaching and Research”
Wednesday, October 3, 2018 – from 5:00 to 6:00 PM in Mather Memorial, 201
Anthropologists draw on ecological and social determinants frameworks to make sense of complex health-related problems and illuminate the pathways to health disparities. However, the ways that US academics teach the evolution and microbiology of sickle cell disease in our introductory human biology, genetics, and microbiology courses may inadvertently undermine the experiences of those living with this chronic and debilitating disease. Data from a mixed-methods ethnographic study are used to discuss the lived experiences of patients with sickle cell disease through the lenses of invisibility and marginality. The spotlight on the evolutionary biology, the allele, and natural selection may contribute to rendering the lived experience of this chronic and disabling disease invisible. I question aspects authoritative knowledge and hope to spark conversations teaching about sickle cell disease. This discussion is important for human biologist to have given that a large proportion of our students end up in the health care system and may treat this population in the future. I hope to illustrate the importance of telling a complete and more nuanced story acknowledging historical, political, and racial tensions surrounding this disease.