Quality Assured Science: The Role Of Standards In Stem Cell Research


This project examines the socio-technical processes shaping the current development of Embryonic Stem Cells research and innovation, specifically with regard to the establishing of new quality control and safety standards developed and overseen by intermediary institutions. These play a crucial social and scientific role between the science base and end-users, primarily in ensuring the quality of SC lines. This is a key issue on which the future development and stability of the field will depend. Through international and interdisciplinary research including collaboration with other European based social scientists, the project will track the development of standards, their mobilisation across SC socio-technical networks and their stabilisation in the medium term. Five case study sites in the UK and overseas have been identified that play a key intermediary role. This research will have value for policy agencies seeking to operationalise and monitor standards as well as academic and commercial actors entering the field. In addition it will add to the currently limited work in social science on standards and their meaning and mobilisation in contemporary science. This collaborative project brings together researchers in the sociology of science and bioscience to undertake analysis of this process. It adopts a research design where theory building and practice are closely integrated. This is seen as a key ambition of the ESRC's initiative on Stem Cells.

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Prof Andrew Webster

Prof Peter Andrews

Prof Henry Moore

Dr Lena Eriksson

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A. Webster and L. Eriksson (2008) Governance-by-standards in the field of stem cells: managing uncertainty in the world of 'basic innovation', New Genetics and Society, special issue, vol 27: 2, 99-111.

L. Eriksson and A Webster (2008) Standardising the Unknown: practicable pluripotency as doable futures, Science as Culture,17:57-70.

Stem Cell Spaces, Places and Flows, Special Issue of New Genetics and Society, 2008; no 2: vol 27, edited Lena Eriksson, Neil Stephens and Andrew Webster


Standards as a form of governance, Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) Annual Conference, Vancouver, November 2006.

Technical and regulatory governance: standardising the field, CESAGen International Conference, Royal Society, London, March 27 2007 .

Going beyond the lab: mobilising basic science through socio-technical networks, Science Impact Conference, FWF, Austria, May 10-11, 2007

Political cultures, bioethics and the regulation of embryonic stem cells: governing and trading in ethical capital, Cambridge Bioethics Lecture Series Darwin College, University of Cambridge, June 12 2007

Governance-by-standards in the field of stem cells: managing uncertainty in the world of 'basic innovation, Sociomics A Multidisciplinary Workshop on the Transformation of Knowledge Production in the Biosciences, and its Consequences, CESAGen Workshop, Sanger Centre, Cambridge, UK, July 2007.



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