Diane Tober, PhD

Title(s)Assistant Professor, Institute for Health & Aging
SchoolSchool of Nursing
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    UC Berkeley/UCSFPhD2000Medical Anthropology

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    Medical Anthropologist. Areas of research and publication include: Family Planning; Afghan Refugees; LGBTQ Families; Sperm, Egg and Kidney Donation/Sale; Reproductive Technologies and Bioethics; Cross-border Fertility Travel; Sexuality and Gender; Critical Medical Anthropology; Reproductive Health Policy; Mixed Methods Research; Documentary Film; Iran, Middle East, Spain, US.

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    The Effects of Socio-Cultural Context on Human Biomarkets
    National Science Foundation 1828783Aug 1, 2018 - Jul 31, 2021
    Role: Principal Investigator
    Role Description: The research supported by this award will investigate the effects of socio-cultural context on the governance of human bio-material donation and sale. Over the past few decades, medical science has increased the potential uses of human bio-materials. However, as innovation has increased, so have questions about costs, outcomes, and ethics. In response, a variety of different regulatory policies have been adopted globally. This variation across countries provides an excellent opportunity for comparative research to see to what degree policy differences produce different outcomes for donors, recipients, and other stakeholders. In this project, researchers will focus on one area of bio-material donation -- compensated donation of human eggs -- in two different cultural contexts. Results from this research will benefit policy makers, medical professionals, and patient and provider advocates. The project also provides research training opportunities for graduate students. The research will be carried out by Dr. Diane Tober, a medical anthropologist from the University of California, San Francisco, in collaboration with researchers from the Spanish University of Distance Education and from Complutense University, both in Madrid, Spain. These research sites were chosen because the United States and Spain are the two primary locations for donor egg fertility treatment, but their bio-material markets operate within dramatically different cultural and regulatory environments. The U.S. has comparatively few regulations limiting donor selection, compensation, and identification, while Spain is highly regulated, limits donor compensation, and requires donor anonymity. The researchers will collect data through ethnographic observation in two or more clinics in each country; interviews with medical professionals in the fertility industry and other key informants; and interviews and surveys of women in each country who provide eggs for pay, including both experienced and first-time donors. The quantitative data will be analyzed with standard statistical methods; the qualitative ethnographic data will be examined using computer-assisted qualitative data analytical techniques and through narrative analysis. Results, presented in professional publications and at conferences, will help social scientists understand how underlying cultural logics inform the crafting and regulation of medical markets and the commodification of human bio-materials. Results will also be made available through policy briefs and public fora to assist policy makers who need to understand how regulatory differences affect outcomes, as well as patients and donors who participate in bio-material markets.
    Decisions and Experiences of Egg Providers
    UCSF RAP Individual Investigator Grant Dec 1, 2015 - Jul 1, 2017
    Role Description: This pilot research explores how women decide to become oocyte donors, their experiences with egg donation process, their satisfaction with their decision, and perceptions of children born from their eggs. Through qualitative, open-ended, semi-structured interviews, combined with quantitative surveys, data from this research can be used to increase egg donor satisfaction and improve informed consent.

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    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Researchers can login to make corrections and additions, or contact us for help.
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    1. Diane Tober.Social Forces. Review of “Between Families and Frankenstein: The Politics of Egg Donation in the United States”. 2019.
    2. Diane Tober.Romancing the Sperm: Shifting Biopolitics and the Making of Modern Families. 2018; 240.
    3. Raifman S, Anderson P, Kaller S, Tober D, Grossman D. Evaluating the capacity of California's publicly funded universities to provide medication abortion. Contraception. 2018 Oct; 98(4):306-311. PMID: 29778584.
      View in: PubMed
    4. Diane Tober and Vincenzo Pavone.Las bioeconomías de la provisión de óvulos en Estados Unidos y en España: una comparación de los mercados médicos y las implicaciones en la atención a las donantes. Revista de Anthropologia Social. 2018; 2(27):261-286.
    5. Tober, Diane M. and Michal Nahman.Beyond Bioavailable Bodies: Reproductive Work and Cross-border Family Making. 2018.
    6. Tober, DM.“My Body is Broken Like My Country”: Identity, Nation, and Repatriation among Afghan Refugees in Iran. Iranian Studies. 2007; 2(40).
    7. Tober DM, Taghdisi MH, Jalali M. "Fewer children, better life" or "as many as God wants"? Family planning among low-income Iranian and Afghan refugee families in Isfahan, Iran. Med Anthropol Q. 2006 Mar; 20(1):50-71. PMID: 16612993.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Tober, DM.Children in the Field and the Methodological Challenges of Research in Iran. Iranian Studies. 2004; 4(37):643.
    9. Nachtigall R, Becker G, Tober D, Friese C, Butler A.Parents' Conceptualization of their Frozen Embryos. Fertility and Sterility. 2003; 3(80):49.
    10. Tober, Diane M .Semen as Gift, Semen as Goods: Reproductive Workers and the Market in Altruism. Body and Society. 2001; 7(2-3):137.
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