Margaret Lock

Current affiliation:
McGill University

Margaret Lock studies the relationships among culture, technology and the human body.

Margaret Lock’s research is concerned primarily with innovations in biomedical technologies, their application in clinical care and society at large, and their effects on our understanding of body boundaries, self and other, health and illness, what it is to be human, and expectations for the good and just life. More specifically, she has compared different approaches to the recognition of brain death and implementation of organ transplants in Japan and North America; the implementation of genetic testing and screening in Europe and North America, and the shift to biomarker detection in middle aged, ‘normal’ people, in an effort to come to grips with pre-symtomatic Alzheimer syndrome at a time when the world’s population is rapidly aging. Recently, she has turned to the revelation in the post-genomic era that genes do not, on their own, determine life and that human life, development, and variation involves a ceaseless entanglement of gene/environment interactions that often directly affect future generations. This insight has enormous potential political and social implications for attending very carefully to persistent inequalities, stigma, and discrimination that contribute to degrading environmental situations.

As a pioneer in the field of medical anthropology, Margaret Lock was already at work studying the revival of traditional medicine in Japan before the domain became a recognized discipline. From the exploration of life cycle transitions to biomedical technologies that facilitate reproduction to the relationship between brain death and organ donation, Dr. Lock examines within a Japanese and North American context the relationship among culture, technology, and the body.

Believing good health to be a fundamental right in life - a human rights matter affected by ways of living, public health measures and access to health care, economics, politics, and major upheavals such as war - she is currently researching the genetics of Alzheimer's disease; exploring whether individuals should be tested for susceptibility genes and the impact this testing has on their lives and the lives of their families.
At the leading edge in all areas of her studies, Dr. Lock is the Marjorie Bronfman Professor in Social Studies in Medicine at McGill University. She is often invited to speak abroad (giving plenary and keynote talks) and has published 12 books and written over 170 scholarly articles.
"Right now the biological sciences and large segments of the world of medicine are undergoing a massive transformation in the postgenomic era, which will have incredible repercussions affecting human rights, such as who will be affected by this new way of going about health care; who will benefit and who will not. The goals of the Trudeau Foundation make me keep that kind of thinking about abiding inequalities firmly in my mind."