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Decoupling Transfusion and Genetics: Blood in the New Human Biology

Decoupling Transfusion and Genetics: Blood in the New Human Biology

Chapter:
(p.192) Ten Decoupling Transfusion and Genetics: Blood in the New Human Biology
Source:
Blood Relations
Author(s):
Jenny Bangham
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226740171.003.0011

By the 1950s, blood groups were no longer the only blood-based human genetic traits. Human blood was yielding new heritable polymorphisms, such as variable hemoglobin, white-cell antigens, and enzyme levels. This diversification of blood disrupted the alignment between wartime regimes of blood donation and research on human population genetics. Previously, Arthur Mourant had been able to claim a central position amid the international movement of blood and data; now, samples were flowing into new spaces, and the expertise needed to interpret them was far more highly distributed. In Britain, the study of these was enthusiastically embraced under the rubric of “human biology.” As retirement drew near, Mourant faced decisions about what to do with his unwieldy but fascinating collections of frozen blood and paper-based data. Both presented profound storage and management challenges in a rapidly internationalizing research program. Genetic methods were shifting, techniques of data management were changing, and retirement beckoned, but Mourant wanted to keep alive and usable the samples and data that had resulted from millions of bloodletting encounters. He faced practical and diplomatic challenges as he tried to maintain the vitality of the research materials lying in freezers and filing cabinets in London.

Keywords:   human biology, data management, retirement, frozen blood, hemoglobin, paper, blood, data, freezers, filing cabinets

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