Can Medical Instruments Be Racist?

Joseph Priestley Society
Thursday, January 27, 2022
1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. EST (UTC -5)

Did you know that spirometers assume a 10–15% smaller lung capacity for Black patients? How did this happen?

Join research curator Roger Turner as he explores how seemingly neutral medical instruments like spirometers and pulse oximeters can amplify racial disparities and how we might make these instruments—and the social systems that use them—better serve all the people they measure.

What You Will Learn

  • The history of the spirometer and pulse oximeter from the work of Lundy Braun and Amy Moran-Thomas
  • How medical instruments contribute to racial inequality
  • What we can learn from the history of these instruments to create ones to better serve all people they measure

This American Chemical Society webinar will be moderated by Bill Tuszynski of the Unami Group LLC and is coproduced with the Science History Institute and Chemical & Engineering News.

About the Speaker

Roger Turner is an historian and storyteller. His particular scholarly expertise is in 20th-century atmospheric science, scientific instruments, and environmental monitoring.

At the Science History Institute, Roger helped launch the student role-playing game Science Matters: The Case of Rare Earth Elements, worked on the film The Instrumental Chemist, developed the playful online experience Instruments of Change, and contributes to museum exhibitions. He wrote and curated Mechanochemistry: The Science of Crush for Google Arts & Culture.


About the Series

The Joseph Priestley Society (JPS) promotes a deeper understanding of science, technology, and industry, with an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. Speakers are leaders from a wide variety of large and small chemical companies and the financial, consulting, and academic communities.


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