Clara Therond (2019 Cohort)

Clara Therond

About me: In 2016 I was awarded a Master’s degree in Medical Anthropology graduating with distinction at University College London. As part of my MSc dissertation, I conducted an ethnographic study examining the translation of genetic testing from the traditional genetics clinics into the treatment setting of patients with advanced ovarian cancer. My current research project has developed through my interest in understanding how medical technologies (re)produce value as they shape and are shaped by diverse sociocultural and biomedical contexts.

My research: My research examines the use of genetic testing and personalised medicine in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer. In the past, genetic testing technologies were confined to the field of cancer prevention. Over recent years however these technologies are being integrated into mainstream cancer care and are relied upon as they generate important knowledge for the research, development and delivery of personalised medicine. My research will be situated in an ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer clinic of a large tertiary NHS hospital. I will draw on the methods of clinical ethnography to engage with patients, oncologists and other healthcare professionals in order to explore the socio-cultural, political and ethical implications of genetic testing within the broader context of personalised medicine development. One of my central research questions will focus on how hope in personalised medicine challenges the meaning of genetic risk for patients already diagnosed with late stage disease and at risk of disease progression.

The difference my research makes: My research aims to contribute towards understanding how the application of genetic knowledge in the context of personalised medicine shapes social interactions and subjective experiences in and across cancer pathways. Within the NHS framework and its commitment to develop and deliver personalised medicine by harnessing the power of genetic technologies, a comparative ethnography offers a new way to theorise the way in which genes, technologies and identities intersect with the themes of suffering, hope and risk in new and striking ways. I hope that by bringing together a range of voices to share experiences of genetic technologies and delivering or receiving personalised therapeutics my research will not only promote dialogue, knowledge exchange and methodological innovation but provide a clearer understanding of what it means to be a cancer patient and a healthcare professional in this rapidly evolving era of personalised medicine.

Supervisors: Dr Sahra Gibbon and Dr Anne Lanceley

Selected publications:

Therond, C., Lanceley, A., Gibbon, S., and Rahman, B. (in press) “The narrative paradox of the BRCA gene: An ethnographic study in the clinical encounters of ovarian cancer patients”. Anthropology & Medicine.

Therond, C. (2017) “BRCA, hope and suffering in the clinical encounters of oncology”. In Anthropolitan (departmental magazine published by UCL Anthropology), Issue No. 14.

Therond, C. (2016) “Precise numbers, messy worlds”. In Anthropolitan (departmental magazine published by UCL Anthropology), Issue No.13.

Presentations & Conferences:
Therond, C., (2018) “The narrative paradox of the BRCA gene: through suffering emerges new hope in the clinical encounters of oncology”. Paper presented at UCL conference: Crafting values in cancer care across the UK.

Pathway: Anthropology

Location: UCL Anthropology