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Alzheimer’s disease is increasingly described today as an epidemic, with estimates of 115 million cases worldwide by 2050. Less visible are the ongoing epistemological arguments in the medical world about the observed entanglements of AD type dementia with “normal” aging, and the repeated efforts to delineate what exactly constitutes this elusive yet devastating condition. In early 2011 official statements appeared in relevant medical journals about a so-called paradigm shift involving a move towards a preventative approach to AD in which the detection of biomarkers indicative of prodromal Alzheimer’s disease is central. In this talk I will discuss the significance of risk predictions associated with such biomarkers, and the irresolvable uncertainties such information raises for involved individuals and families.
Margaret Lock is the Marjorie Bronfman Professor Emerita in Social Studies in Medicine, and is affiliated with the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officier de L’Ordre national du Québec, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Lock was awarded the Prix Du Québec, domaine Sciences Humaines in 1997 and in the same year the Wellcome Medal of the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain.