Reassembling the cancer clinic: On the co-production of epistemic and organizational innovation in translational cancer research

Speaker: Professor Alberto Cambrosio # McGill University, Montreal

16th Dec 2015

16:00 - 17:30

Meadows Lecture Theatre, Doorway 4, Medical School, Teviot Place, EH8 9AG

Science, Technology and Innovation Studies and the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics are hosting a seminar from Professor Alberto Cambrosio. Professor Cambrosio works at the intersection of medical sociology and science and technology studies. His most recent books include 'Cancer on Trial' and 'Biomedical Platforms', which consider the historical transformation of biomedical practices, particularly clinical trials. He is Chair of the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University, Montreal.


This talk will draw on the development of medical oncology from the 1960s-present to examine mutually constitutive relations between epistemic and organizational innovation. It will show how, with the promotion of stronger interactions between pre-clinical and clinical work, 1960s oncologists and their turn-of-the-century colleagues developed different solutions, in spite of powerful path-dependency effects. 

These different outcomes cannot be reduced to the actors’ strategies or to a political sociology of science that neglects the content of bio-clinical practices. They correspond to two distinctive socio-technical networks that can be better understood by focusing on oncology’s regimens (a notion partially borrowed from the oncology field), and the framings and overflows they engender. Social scientists continue to debate whether organizational innovation leads to cognitive innovation or vice versa, and remain caught in the opposition between configurational (static) and dynamic analysis. Regimens provide a heuristic alternative to these dichotomies.