History, Memory and Epistemic Justice in the Discovery of RNA Splicing
Résumé : The talk reflects, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the discovery of RNA splicing, (2017, 1977) why the public memory of this discovery does not include categories of scientists who played a key role in it. (especially women, foreign, and junior scientists) Perhaps second to mRNA and DNA structure only, the discovery of RNA splicing changed our conception of gene structure, and the origins of genomic diversity, leading to current progress in understanding how the spliceosome, the largest stand alone biological assembly, performs the splicing mechanism.
|The talk focuses on the processes of exclusion of women, foreign, and junior scientists from the public memory of this discovery, and on the impact of such an outcome on social inequity in science, such as the persisting under-representation of women, foreign, and junior scientists in scientific discovery. For example, though women were the “first authors” of two discovery papers, the 1993 Nobel Prize was divided between two lab directors who did not even use the “clinching” technique on their own. Along these lines, the claims of scientists from other countries (France and Israel) to have independently co-discovered the splicing phenomenon were not accepted by US scientists, who controlled the reception of the discovery, as well as its image as “simultaneous” in two central labs. The talk also interrogates the role of historians of science in bringing about “epistemic justice” for these categories of scientists.|
|Dr. Pnina Geraldine Abir-Am is a historian of science who published widely on the history of molecular biology, women and gender in science, and public memory. She also edited or co-edited four pioneering volumes, including Uneasy Careers and Intimate Lives, Women in Science, 1789-1979 which received an Award from the History of Science Society in USA for outstanding research and is considered a “classic” publication. Dr. Abir-Am’s current work focuses on issues of epistemic justice in recognizing women, foreign, and junior scientists who played a key role in the discovery of RNA splicing.|
La conférence sera donnée en anglais, et les échanges qui suivront pourront se faire en français.