Mara Buchbinder

Assistant Professor, Department of Social Medicine
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
Ph.D. Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, 2010
(919) 843-6881
341A MacNider CB# 7240
333 S. Columbia Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

Research interests:
anthropology of biomedicine; clinical communication and the physician-patient relationship; families, health, and illness; language, narrative, and healing; science and technology studies; medical ethics

Research activities:
Dr. Buchbinder’s first book, Saving Babies? The Consequences of Newborn Genetic Screening (University of Chicago Press, 2013), co-authored with Stefan Timmermans, describes the recent expansion and standardization of state-mandated newborn screening programs after decades of measured growth. The book draws on three years of ethnographic research to examine how parents and geneticists together resolve multiple diagnostic, prognostic, and epistemic uncertainties associated with the introduction of new screening technologies. It focuses on the collaborative activities needed to bridge the gaps between technological scripts and unexpected outcomes, particularly the work undertaken to resolve scientific anomalies, manage families’ expectations in clinical encounters, and integrate screening activities into the broader healthcare infrastructure. Dr. Buchbinder is currently working on a second book project based on 18 months of fieldwork in a multidisciplinary pediatric pain clinic that explores how clinicians, patients, and their families make sense of chronic, unexplained pain.

Read and interview with Dr. Buchbinder about her latest book All in Your Head: Making Sense of Pediatric Pain here

Read an interview with Dr. Buchbinder about her book, Saving Babies? The Consequences of Modern Genetic Screening here

Selected Publications:

Timmermans, Stefan and Mara Buchbinder. (2013). Saving Babies? The Consequences of Newborn Genetic Screening. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Buchbinder, Mara. (2012). “Sticky” Brains and Sticky Encounters in an American Pediatric Pain Clinic. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 36(1):102-123.

Timmermans, Stefan and Mara Buchbinder. (2012). Expanded Newborn Screening: Articulating the Ontology of Diseases with Bridging Work in the Clinic. Sociology of Health and Illness 34(2):208-220.

Buchbinder, Mara. (2011). Personhood Diagnostics: Personal Attributes and Clinical Explanations of Pain. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 25(4):457-478.

Buchbinder, Mara and Stefan Timmermans. (2011). Medical Technologies and the Dream of the Perfect Newborn. Medical Anthropology 30(1):56-80.

Timmermans, Stefan and Mara Buchbinder. (2010). Patients in Waiting: Living Between Sickness and Health in the Genomics Era. Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51(4):408-423.

Buchbinder, Mara. (2010).Giving an Account of One’s Pain in the Anthropological Interview. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry 34(1):108-131.

2012-2015 UNC CTSA Interdisciplinary Clinical Research Career Development Award KL2TR000084, National Institutes of Health
2012 Visiting Researcher, Brocher Foundation, Hermance, Switzerland

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