Sociology has always had a strong interest in medicine, and more recently, in the impact of the new biomedical sciences on medicine. The social science grant agency, the ESRC is itself keen to support new work on ‘the biosocial’, how the social and the biological are co-produced. One area where the biosocial is especially important for sociological inquiry is Regenerative Medicine (RM). Its distinctive feature is the use of live cells and tissues to treat disease, replacing diseased tissue and organs with new, healthy and specially-grown tissue. Within the UK, the field of RM is surrounded by considerable promise and high expectation. It is championed as a potential source of cures for a range of disorders, and the Government has identified the field as one of the wealth-generating ‘Eight Great Technologies’ which help drive the economic growth. In light of this, various Government-supported initiatives have been launched to accelerate innovation within the field and bring new therapies to patients sooner.
The field of RM, however, is still very much in its infancy, and there are very few therapies available in the present day. Sociological research being undertaken by members of SATSU in the Department shows how clinicians and investigators working on new RM therapies are encountering many significant challenges that reflect the ‘biosocial’ at work: how to stabilise and standardise the tissue they work with, what sort of legal and regulatory classification it should have compared to other areas of medicine, whether they need new types of organisational and clinical systems to deliver RM to patients, and how should the long term benefits and costs of RM be assessed?
As part of the York Festival of Ideas, Andrew Webster, Ruchi Higham and John Gardner from the Sociology Department will join Paul Genever and Amanda Barnes from the Department of Biology will lead a public discussion on RM. By bringing the biological and social sciences together, they will provide an overview of the hopes (and hype) but, more importantly, the likely and diverse clinical paths that regenerative medicine will take and within what timeframes. The session will involve a lively and informed debate about RM and help participants to understand better its likely long-term impact in the NHS and elsewhere.
June 9th, 6:00pm – 7:30pm
The Diana Bowles Lecture Theatre, Department of Biology. Room K018 (Ground floor Biology Building)
Admittance/ticket price: Free entry
Booking details Via the Central Festival Team