James Lowe's profile

Dr James Lowe


Senior Research Fellow


Science Technology and Innovation Studies

E-Mail Telephone

+44 (0)131 6502 842


2.92 Old Surgeons' Hall

High School Yards

Edinburgh, UK


After completing my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences in 2006, I worked in education and the pharmaceutical industry. In 2009, I developed my interest in the historical and conceptual aspects of biology by completing an MA in History and Philosophy of Biology at the University of Exeter.

My PhD research concerned the American biologist Edmund Beecher Wilson (1856-1939) and the role of normal development in his early work in experimental embryology. I have presented on Wilson and on normal development and its role in experimental systems in biology, and have published articles based on this research which examines the place and significance of biological variation in current scientific questions, methods and theory.

From October 2015 to July 2016 I worked on a project concerning in vivo skills in animal research, funded by the British Pharmacological Society and based at the University of Exeter. I was the lead author of the report produced as a result of this project. Building on my interest in scientific practice, I am currently interested in translational research, and this forms a key part of the new project I am working on here at University of Edinburgh, on the history of the pig genome mapping and sequencing initiatives:

Research Interests

Genomics History of science History of biological sciences variation Translation biotechnology Philosophy of science philosophy of biology animal research biology and agriculture scientific practice

Research Overview

My overarching interests concern scientific practices relating to biological variation, and its manifestation in theoretical conceptions of genetics and developmental biology, genomics and various forms of translational research. 

Current Projects

Medical translation in the history of modern genomics (TRANSGENE)

The translation of basic biomedical research into clinical practice has become a central concern for science policy. Policies to foster translation are being applied to large amounts of genomic information available in open-access databases. This information is the result of concerted initiatives that, in the early 2000s, determined the full genetic sequence that characterises humans and other organisms. However, when the initiatives started the goal of determining the full sequence and making the resulting information available was not universally supported. The TRANSGENE project will investigate how and why this objective of completing the sequence was adopted in preference to other models that prioritised the usability of the data. Combining archival research with interviews and insights from social studies of science and Innovation Studies, my focus is on the projects to map and then sequence the genome of the domesticated pig, Sus scrofa domesticus.

Principal investigator: Miguel García-Sancho
Funded by the European Research Council

Undergraduate Teaching

Controversies in Medicine, Technology and the Environment (STIS10009)

Other Teaching Activities

Guest lecturer in: History of Medicine, Biobusiness, Innovation in Sustainable Food Systems.

PhD Topics

History of genetics, history of genomics, history of embryology/developmental biology, history of biology, philosophical aspects and implications of genetics/genomics, philosophy of science in practice.

Find out more about the programmes that I am involved with:

PhD in Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies

Current PhD Students

Jarmo de Vries (primary supervisor: Miguel García-Sancho)


Under contract with Palgrave Macmillan, to be jointly-authored with Miguel García-Sancho: ‘A History of Genomics across Species and Projects’

Journal Articles:

Under revision: (jointly edited with Miguel García-Sancho, including six papers with multiple co-authors) Special issue, “The sequences and the sequencers: a new approach to investigate the emergence of yeast, human and pig genomics”. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences.

Under revision: "Adjusting to precarity: how and why the Roslin Institute forged a leading role for itself in international networks of pig genomics research". British Journal for the History of Science.

Submitted, awaiting review:(second author; with Ann Bruce) “Pigs and Chips: the making of a biotechnology innovation ecosystem”. Technovation.

Submitted, awaiting review: "Humanising and dehumanising pigs in genomic and transplantation research"; for inclusion in a special issue of History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences.

2019: (first author; with Sabina Leonelli and Gail Davies) “Training to Translate: Understanding and Informing Translational Animal Research in Pre-Clinical Pharmacology”. Tecnoscienza, Vol. 10 No. 2: 5-30. [Open-access copy]

2019: (first author; with Ann Bruce) “Genetics without genes? The centrality of genetic markers in livestock genetics and genomics”. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, Vol. 41: article 50. [Open-access copy]

2018: “Sequencing through thick and thin: Historiographical and philosophical implications”. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, online access. [Pre-proof copy]

2017: Book review: ‘STEPHEN HILGARTNER, Reordering Life: Knowledge and Control in the Genomics Revolution’. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, Vol. 40 No. 1: 5. [Pre-proof copy]

2016: "Normal development and experimental embryology: Edmund Beecher Wilson and Amphioxus". Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Vol. 57: 44-59. [Pre-proof copy]

2015: "Managing variation in the investigation of organismal development: problems and opportunities". History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences. DOI: 10.1007/s40656-015-0089-3. [Pre-proof copy]

2015: "Book review: 'Science in the twentieth century and beyond' by Jon Agar". New Genetics and Society, Vol. 34 No. 3: 338-340.


2017: (third author; with Miguel García-Sancho and Dmitriy Myelnikov) “The Invisible History of the Visible Sheep: How a Look at the Past may Broaden our View of the Legacy of Dolly”. [Online copy]

2016: (with Collis M, Davies G, Leonelli S, Lewis DI and Zecharia AY) "An evaluation of the Integrative Pharmacology Fund: Lessons for the future of in vivo education and training". London, UK: British Pharmacological Society. [Online copy]

Encyclopaedia Articles:

2018-present: Founding editor and contributor to Genomics in Context.

2016: "Human Genome Project as a Social Enterprise". In: eLS [Encyclopaedia of the Life Sciences]. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005650.pub2 http://www.els.net/WileyCDA/ElsArticle/refId-a0005650.html.

2015: "‘Amphioxus, and the Mosaic Theory of Development’ (1893), by Edmund Beecher Wilson". Embryo Project Encyclopedia (2015-03-31). ISSN: 1940-5030 http://embryo.asu.edu/handle/10776/8312.

2014: "‘Experimental Studies on Germinal Localization’ (1904), by Edmund B. Wilson". Embryo Project Encyclopedia (2014-12-22). ISSN: 1940-5030 http://embryo.asu.edu/handle/10776/8272.