PreFace
iginia
n the late 1990s, a group that Professor Emerita Vir-
Olesen called “the gang of five” began to gather
weekly in a windowless conference room at the Lau-
rel Heights campus of the University of California, San
Francisco, one of twenty- five UCSF sites in the city. A
massive former insurance company building where
“desktop research” social science units and parts of the
administration dwell, the Laurel Heights campus sits
atop a San Francisco hill. It is linked by the Internet
and extended shuttle bus service to the rest of UCSF,
a transnational epicenter of biotechnology, healthcare,
primary and tertiary hospitals, and a formidable array of
industry- academia-state research collaborations.
The origins of the gang of five lay in a sociology dis-
sertation writing group that began around 1997 and in-
cluded Laura Mamo, Jennifer Ruth Fosket, Jennifer R.
Fishman, and Janet K. Shim. Adele Clarke was chairing
the dissertations of Mamo, Fosket, and Fishman and was
a member of Shim’s committee. Each of our empirical
research projects was situated in late- twentieth-century
biomedicine and what we saw as significant emergent
phenomena: pharmaceutical drugs for prevention and
enhancement, epidemiological and biomedical models
of risk, commodification of biomaterials, and a new
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