Genomic data and “big science”
Okeke’s analysis is largely at the level of meso where she looks at the various organizations and nature of collaboration between “global South and global North.” She does also touch on the science of it at the data and eco level but misses on the micro levels.
“She notes that “genomic science is often justified in terms of outcomes for health, agriculture or the environment, more or less embracing the “big science” definition in its original form” although she counters that DNA sequencing is “basic science.”
“Genomic data could be used by resource-poor laboratories in Africa. Also, although genomic and other -omic big sciences are expensive (though prices are dropping rapidly), they can be used to develop very basic and cheap technologies. Therefore one would expect that unlike molecular biology, the fruits of genomics would fall into Africa or that at the very least, some of their juices would trickle in. This is happening in some cases but not in others.” (460)
“Most important genomic data is available from freely accessible databases and sophisticated analyses can be performed using free software.” (459)
Okeke notes that most Africans are relegated to collection work in partnerships related to global health and genomics work. “In the last half-century far too many African scientists are engaged in what they themselves view as “collecting” biological specimens, which are then dispatched to laboratories elsewhere on the globe. African scientists have viewed their conduit role in this “postal research” as derogatory (Ntoumi et al. 2004; Oyebade 2010; Crane 2013; Sawyerr 2004; Fullwiley 2011).6 For them, bioscience has matured, but Little Brother has not. Others spend a few weeks a year hosting “parachute scientists” who visit only to grab specimens and then disappear into the real world of scientific inquiry (Okwaro and Geissler 2015; Fullwiley 2011).
“Postal” and “parachute” research inevitably addresses remote or “global” questions, not local ones (Kebede and Polderman 2004; Costello and Zumla 2000; Okeke 2011; Wolffers, Adjei, and van der Drift 1998; Karim and Karim 2010; Fullwiley 2011). We know a lot because of this type of research, but very little of this knowledge has been applied to health care on the continent (Fullwiley 2011).”
No. I required UCI access.