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Paula Blair

PhD candidate
I began studying for my MSc in History of Medicine at the University of Glasgow in 2014, funded by the Wellcome Trust, and I graduated in December 2015 with Merit . I spoke at the European Society of Human Genetics meeting in Glasgow in June 2015, presenting a talk on the first Lecturer in Genetics at the University of Glasgow, Guido Pontecorvo. I am now studying for my ESRC-funded PhD at the University of Glasgow, which will focus on the development of prenatal diagnostic testing and its impact on society. I have spoken at a variety of events throughout the course of my PhD so far, and have also taught on the Access Biology course since 2014.

Research and Teaching Interests

I am interested in the history of genetics, particularly how scientific discoveries in this field were translated into clinical practice. My main area of focus is the development of prenatal testing, which has occurred at a rapid pace since the 1950s. I am keen to investigate how prenatal diagnosis has advanced in the West of Scotland, and I have a particular interest in the career of Malcolm Ferguson-Smith, an eminent Glaswegian geneticist who was central to bringing the testing to patients in Glasgow and the surrounding areas. My interest in genetics also extends to the impact prenatal testing has had on society, especially for religious organisations. As many religious groups disagree with termination of pregnancy, the advent of prenatal diagnostic technology which enables termination of fetuses with abnormalities contrasts strongly with their belief systems. I am also interested in the wider impact that prenatal testing has had on society, especially on the women who accessed the testing, and disabled individuals.


GenderGeneticsHistory of MedicineHistory of ScienceMalcolm Ferguson-SmithPregnancyPrenatal TestingReligion