Specialization 1 / Specialization 2


Social Studies of biomedicine

University of Trento

The aim of the course is to discuss key topics in the field of social studies of biomedicine. Possible topics are: the political economy of biomedical research, standardization and harmonization of research practices and clinical trials design, the data-centric turn in biomedicine and the life sciences, patients’ engagement in research and new participatory practices in clinical trials design. 

This course is organised in the form of seminar/reading groups (6 lessons of two academic hours) in which students discuss with the instructor articles and essays of the core literature in the different sub-field of social studies of biomedicine. The topic of the seminar will be decided with the students on the basis of their main interests. Therefore, students who intend to participate should contact the instructor in advance to arrange a program that can fit the interests of participating students. 

Students who want to work on a thesis have to contact the instructor in advance in order to define the topic and to make arrangements for the fieldwork.

The fieldwork can be organized at the department of Cellular, Computational and Integrative Biology of the University of Trento, that hosts several laboratories involved in various research projects. 



Lorenzo Beltrame


Main literature

Birch, Kean, and David Tyfield. 2013. “Theorizing the Bioeconomy.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 38 (3): 299–327.

Birch, Kean. 2017. “Rethinking Value in the Bio-Economy.” Science, Technology & Human Values 42 (3): 460–490.

Bourret, Pascale. 2016. “BRCA Patients and Clinical Collectives.” Social Studies of Science 35 (1): 41–68.

Callon, Michel, and Vololona Rabeharisoa. 2004. “Gino’s Lesson on Humanity: Genetics, Mutual Entanglements and the Sociologist’s Role.” Economy and Society 33 (1): 1–27.

Callon, Michel, and Vololona Rabeharisoa. 2008. “The Growing Engagement of Emergent Concerned Groups in Political and Economic Life: Lessons from the French Association of Neuromuscular Disease Patients.” Science, Technology & Human Values 33 (2): 230–261.

Cambrosio, A, P Keating, T Schlich, and G Weisz. 2009. “Biomedical Conventions and Regulatory Objectivity: A Few Introductory Remarks.” Social Studies of Science 39 (5): 651–664

Cambrosio, Alberto, Peter Keating, Thomas Schlich, and George Weisz. 2006. “Regulatory Objectivity and the Generation and Management of Evidence in Medicine.” Social Science and Medicine 63 (1): 189–199.

Cooper Melinda 2008 Life as Surplus. Biotechnology and Capitalism in the Neoliberal Era. University of Washington Press. 

Cooper Melinda and Waldby Catherine 2014 Clinical Labor. Tissue Donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy. Duke University Press. 

Dumit Joseph 2012 Drugs for Life. How Pharmaceutical Companies Define Our Health. Duke University Press. 

Epstein, Steven. 1995. “The Construction of Lay Expertise: AIDS Activism and the Forging of Credibility in the Reform of Clinical Trials.” Science, Technology & Human Values 20 (4): 408–437

Franklin Sarah and Lock Margaret 2003 Remaking Life & Death: Toward an Anthropology of the Biosciences. School of American Research Press. 

Hauskeller, C., BAUR, N. & Harrington, J. 2018 Standards, Harmonization and Cultural Differences: Examining the Implementation of a European Stem Cell Clinical Trial. Science as Culture , 1–26

Helmreich, Stefan. 2008. “Species of Biocapital.” Science as Culture 17 (4): 463–478.

Keating, Paul, and Alberto Cambrosio. 2005. “The New Genetics and Cancer: The Contributions of Clinical Medicine in the Era of Biomedicine.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 56 (4): 321–352

Keating, Peter, and Alberto Cambrosio. 2000. “Biomedical Platforms.” Configurations 8 (3): 337–387.

Kohli-Laven, Nina, Pascale Bourret, Peter Keating, and Alberto Cambrosio. 2011. “Cancer Clinical Trials in the Era of Genomic Signatures: Biomedical Innovation, Clinical Utility, and Regulatory- Scientific Hybrids.” Social Studies of Science 41 (4): 487–513.

Kraft, A. & Rubin, B. P. 2016 Changing cells: An analysis of the concept of plasticity in the context of cellular differentiation. BioSocieties 11, 497–525

Leonelli Sabina 2016 Data-Centric Biology. A Philosophical Study. Chicago University Press

Leonelli Sabina and Tempini Niccolò 2020 Data Journeys in the Sciences. Springer.

Mitchell, R, and C Waldby. 2010. “National Biobanks: Clinical Labor, Risk Production, and the Creation of Biovalue.” Science, Technology & Human Values 35 (3): 330–355.

Moreira, Tiago. 2012. “Health Care Standards and the Politics of Singularities.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 37 (4): 307–331.

Morrison, M. 2017 Infrastructural expectations: exploring the promise of international large-scale induced pluripotent stem cell banks. New Genetics and Society 36, 66–83

Morrison, M. 2018 Making Cells Worthwhile: Calculations of Value in a European Consortium for Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Banking. Science as Culture 28, 46–69

Novas, Carlos, and Nikolas Rose. 2000. “Genetic Risk and the Birth of the Somatic Individual.” Economy and Society 29 (4): 485–513. 

Rabeharisoa, Vololona, Michel Callon, Angela Marques Filipe, João Arriscado Nunes, Florence Paterson, and Frédéric Vergnaud. 2014. “From ‘Politics of Numbers’ to ‘Politics of Singularisation’: Patients’ Activism and Engagement in Research on Rare Diseases in France and Portugal.” BioSocieties 9 (2): 194–217.

Rabeharisoa, Vololona, Tiago Moreira, and Madeleine Akrich. 2014. “Evidence-Based Activism: Patients’, Users’ and Activists’ Groups in Knowledge Society.” BioSocieties 9 (2): 111–128

Rabinow, Paul, and Nikolas Rose. 2006. “Biopower Today.” BioSocieties 1 (2): 195–217.

Rose N. 2007 The Politics of Life Itself. Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century, Princeton University Press

Singh, Jennifer S. 2015. “Narratives of Participation in Autism Genetics Research.” Science, Technology & Human Values 40 (2): 227–249.

Stephens, N., Atkinson, P. & Glasner, P. 2011 Documenting the doable and doing the documented: Bridging strategies at the UK Stem Cell Bank. Social Studies of Science 41, 791–813

Stevens Hallam 2013 Life Out of Sequence. A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics. Chicago University Press

Sunder Rajan K (Ed) 2012 Lively Capital. Biotechnologies, Ethics, and Governance in Global Markets. Duke University Press

Sunder Rajan K. 2017 Pharmocracy. Value, Politics, and Knowledge in Global Biomedicine. Duke University Press

Sunder Rajan, K. 2006. Biocapital. The Constitution of Postgenomic Life, Duke University Press. 

Sunder Rajan, Kaushik. 2003. “Genomic Capital: Public Cultures and Market Logics of Corporate Biotechnology.” Science as Culture 12 (1): 87–121.

Sunder Rajan, Kaushik. 2007. “Experimental Values. Indian Clinical Trials and Surplus Health.” New Left Review 45: 67–88.

Tempini, Niccolò, and David Teira. 2019. “Is the Genie out of the Bottle? Digital Platforms and the Future of Clinical Trials.” Economy and Society 48 (1): 77–106.

Tempini, Niccolò. 2017. “Till Data Do Us Part: Understanding Data-Based Value Creation in Data-Intensive Infrastructures.” Information and Organization 27 (4): 191–210. 

Tempini, Niccolò. 2021. “Data Curation-Research: Practices of Data Standardization and Exploration in a Precision Medicine Database.” New Genetics and Society 40 (1): 73–94

Timmermans Stefan and Berg Marc 2003 The Gold Standard: The Challenge of Evidence‐Based Medicine and Standardization in Health Care. Temple University Press

Tupasela, Aaro. 2016. “Populations as Brands in Medical Research: Placing Genes on the Global Genetic Atlas.” BioSocieties 12 (1): 47–65. 

Wainwright, S. P., Michael, M. & Williams, C. 2009 Shifting paradigms? Reflections on regenerative medicine, embryonic stem cells and pharmaceuticals. Sociology of Health & Illness 30, 959–974

Wainwright, S. P., Williams, C., Michael, M., Farsides, B. & Cribb, A. 2006 From bench to bedside?Biomedical scientists’ expectations of stem cell science as a future therapy for diabetes. Social Science and Medicine 63, 2052–2064

Waldby Catherine and Mitchell Robert 2006 Tissue Economies. Blood, Organs, and Cell Lines in Late Capitalism. Duke University Press.

Waldby, C. 2002. “Stem Cells, Tissue Cultures and the Production of Biovalue.” Health 6 (3): 305–323.

Waldby, Catherine, and Melinda Cooper. 2008. “The Biopolitics of Reproduction.” Australian Feminist Studies 23 (55): 57–73.

Webster, A. & Eriksson, L. 2008  Governance-by-standards in the field of stem cells: managing uncertainty in the world of “basic innovation.” New Genetics and Society 27, 99–111

Webster, A., Haddad, C. & Waldby, C. 2011 Experimental heterogeneity and standardisation: Stem cell products and the clinical trial process. BioSocieties 6, 401–419