James Lowe
Name
Dr James Lowe
Title
Research Fellow
Organisation
Science Technology and Innovation Studies School of Social and Political Science
University of Edinburgh
Address
2.93 Old Surgeons' Hall High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
Telephone
+44 (0)131 6502 842
E-Mail
Genomics History of science History of biological sciences variation Translation biotechnology Philosophy of science philosophy of biology animal research biology and agriculture scientific practice

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:

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

Publications

Journal Articles:

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.

Reports:

December 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:

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.

 

Latest Blog Posts

Project’s quantitative data available online

Name Project’s quantitative data available online Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone A main objective of our project is to combine oral histories, archival searches and other traditional methods for historical research with quantitative data, so that we can develop a new approach to … (Read more)


Pig Breeders' Roundtable

Name Pig Breeders' Roundtable Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone Every two years, academic researchers join scientists and representatives from leading pig breeding companies at the verdant campus of the University of Kent, just outside of Canterbury. The event, the Pig Breeders' Roundtable, has … (Read more)


Extracting value from digitizing microbes in Oslo – a ReDig workshop

Name Extracting value from digitizing microbes in Oslo – a ReDig workshop Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone Nothing about the city centre of Oslo would tell you that you’re in the same country as the sharp-edged fjords that characterise the north of Norway. … (Read more)


Past and present of human genomics at the National Institutes of Health

Name Past and present of human genomics at the National Institutes of Health Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone The TRANSGENE project was invited to a workshop organised by the National Human Genome Research Institute of the United States (NHGRI) to explore both historical … (Read more)


Portraits of blue-skies research at Carlsberg Laboratory

Name Portraits of blue-skies research at Carlsberg Laboratory Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone Portraits of blue-skies research at Carlsberg Laboratory Claes Gausmann, yeast geneticist at Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen, tells me that the problem with automating yeast research is akin to the problem … (Read more)


Turning research organisms on their head at 4S in Australia

Name Turning research organisms on their head at 4S in Australia Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone Rachel Ankeny and Sabina Leonelli have done a great deal to shape and populate history and philosophy of science attention to model organisms through their joint work … (Read more)


Yeast as a model organism at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Name Yeast as a model organism at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone As I scuffed my shoes on scattered tree branches, bits of broken asphalt, and varied road debris with fast-moving lorries and sports cars whizzing past my right … (Read more)


Panel on working with large datasets in the history of science - call for expressions of initial interest

Name Panel on working with large datasets in the history of science - call for expressions of initial interest Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone Ahead of the formal call for papers for the 2019 British Society for the History of Science conference (which … (Read more)


New publication: 'Sequencing Through Thick and Thin'

Name New publication: 'Sequencing Through Thick and Thin' Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone The first peer-reviewed publication arising from the TRANSGENE project has now been published online by the journal Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Entitled 'Sequencing through … (Read more)


TRANSGENE on European genomics

Name TRANSGENE on European genomics Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone At the recent conference of the European Society for the History of Science in London, the TRANSGENE team organised a symposium chaired by Robert Bud on the crucial role of European transnational collaboration … (Read more)


TRANSGENE goes to the Fringe

Name TRANSGENE goes to the Fringe Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone On 22nd August, TRANSGENE took part in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world. As part of the ‘Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas’ strand, James Lowe presented a show … (Read more)


The future of sustainable food production?

Name The future of sustainable food production? Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone On July 18th, I attended a horizon-scanning workshop on food sustainability hosted by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. The aim of the meeting was to scope out the challenges facing food … (Read more)


The Canadian chapter of the history of human genomics

Name The Canadian chapter of the history of human genomics Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone Miguel Garcia-Sancho, PI of the TRANSGENE project and lead investigator of the human genome strand, visited Toronto and Montreal last April to conduct historical research and participate in … (Read more)


Exploring pig genetics in France

Name Exploring pig genetics in France Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone At the end of November, I followed in the footsteps of many of the pig geneticists whose work I have been researching, and visited the Jouy-en-Josas campus of the French Institut national … (Read more)


Advisory Board Meeting and Second Phase of Project

Name Advisory Board Meeting and Second Phase of Project Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone First Advisory Board meeting The TRANSGENE team presented its first findings to an Advisory Board comprised by Stephen Hilgartner (Cornell University), Robert Bud (Science Museum, London), Michel Morange (University … (Read more)


The unusual pioneer of the Human Genome Project

Name The unusual pioneer of the Human Genome Project Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone When we think about prime-movers, proposing for the first time the idea of scientifically tackling the human genome, the usual suspects come to our mind: reputed biomedical Nobel Prize … (Read more)


TRANSGENE on tour

Name TRANSGENE on tour Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone …at the British Society for the History of Science conference Amongst the sizeable Edinburgh contingent at the annual British Society for the History of Science conference, this year held in York, were representatives from … (Read more)


June events

Name June events Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone The TRANSGENE project operates within the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) subject group at the University of Edinburgh. This multidisciplinary affiliation, and association with the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation … (Read more)


Classifying people, practices and institutions

Name Classifying people, practices and institutions Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone Just as classifications of species, genes, stages of development, or macromolecules can shape research in biology, classification in the humanities and social sciences can condition our analyses. In the pig strand of … (Read more)


The yeast telomeres

Name The yeast telomeres Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone Writing the history of the yeast genome project starting from the end, more precisely the chromosome ends, can be an instructive exercise. Chromosome ends (telomeres) are specialised structures essential for chromosome maintenance and genome … (Read more)


Collaborating with the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI)

Name Collaborating with the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone In March 2017, I am conducting a three-week visiting post-doctoral fellowship at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI, Cambridge UK), for the bibliometric and “big data” strand of the project. I … (Read more)


The history of pig genome research enters the matrix

Name The history of pig genome research enters the matrix Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone In the TRANSGENE project we are committed to using approaches from different disciplines to make sense of the historical material, and to generate new data from which to … (Read more)


Tracing the history of European biotechnology in the HAEU

Name Tracing the history of European biotechnology in the HAEU Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone My week-long visit to the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU) in Florence has proved to be a remarkable opportunity for investigating the ‘behind the scenes’ of … (Read more)


Scientific archives and the history of genomics

Name Scientific archives and the history of genomics Title Organisation School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh Telephone In November 2016 Miguel Garcia-Sancho, James Lowe and I attended the Workshop on Scientific Archives organised by Anne Flore-Laloë, archivist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. The … (Read more)