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Cells in suspense: Unboxing the negotiations of a large-scale cell transplantation trial
Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3571-4620
2016 (English)In: Ethnologia Scandinavica, ISSN 0348-9698, E-ISSN 0348-9698, Vol. 46, p. 104-123Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Throughout scientific work and research,many processes and procedures are maderoutine, mundane and then taken forgranted. So are some underlying assump-tions – not only about the state of the nat-ural world, but about what its different ac-tors are supposed or expected to be orwork like. These assumptions are not onlydescriptive, but prescriptive. If we pro-ceed from the notion that expectations andbeliefs are written into our everyday prac-tices and made opaque even to their prac-titioners, it becomes an urgent issue tofind tools to better scrutinize and evaluatethem. This is, I argue, a matter of ethics.How such assumptions are written intopractices is perhaps as available as ever, inthe instructions, documents and processesof evidence-based science. When somepremises and practices are locked to eachother, others are excluded. The aim of thisarticle is to explore the dynamics of thisprocess in a biomedical research practice,with regard to how it affects what are con-sidered ethical issues and how they arehandled.Based on ethnographic fieldwork, I willinvestigate what happened when staff in alarge-scale and multi-site cell transplanta-tion trial in Parkinson’s research had toscrutinize their procedures. I want to un-derstand what subsequent negotiationsneeded to be done in order to progress; or,more specifically, what deliberationsabout perspectives, procedures and ethicalissues of the project were required to seethe trial through. The focus is on what thestaff described as causing the major delaysthat they faced, and temporality is subse-quently conceptualized as an importantfactor in the homogenization and repro-ducibility of science. I discuss how thenecessary changes and negotiations relateto the aims and standards presented by therationale of evidence-based science, andthe implications they have for researchpractice of future trials and for researchethics.I argue that investigations such as thisare crucial to better understand how ethi-cal dilemmas are not primarily abstractdeliberations addressed in policy docu-ments, but embedded in everyday prac-tice. I will also address the importance ofethnographic practices to this end.In the following, the content and theconditions of the trial will be presented incontext.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kungliga Gustav Adolfs Akademien, 2016. Vol. 46, p. 104-123
National Category
Ethnology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-54385OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-54385DiVA, id: diva2:1687221
Available from: 2022-08-15 Created: 2022-08-15 Last updated: 2022-08-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Cells in Culture, cells in Suspense.: Practices of Cultural Production in Foetal Cell Research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cells in Culture, cells in Suspense.: Practices of Cultural Production in Foetal Cell Research
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative affliction to whichresearchers have long striven to find a cure. The human embryois a source of vital cells used in regenerative medicine, as well as apowerful symbol of life. Using foetal cells from aborted embryosfor transplantation to the brains of Parkinson patients is an avenuethat has been explored by neuroscientistson and off for the lastthirty years. This ethnological compilation thesis follows a nationalbranch of a foetal cell transplantation trial through successes as wellas challenges in processing foetal material into an effective, transplantablecell suspension. The cell suspension is conceptualized as abio-object, and explored as something that produces new knowledge,emotions and logistical and ethical negotiations. These products arebeyond the scope of the trial and biomedical research in general, butthey do nonetheless interact with and affect society at large.New biomedical inventions and forms of therapies transgress thelimits of life and death and the boundaries of individuals, as well asbetween species. Such cultural reordering challenges researchers,health care professionals as well patients on a daily basis. Exploringthe intersection between instruction and practice, nature and cultureas well as between science and ritual, this thesis contributes to abroader understanding of cultural and material conditions ofknowledge production. It also offers a methodological elaborationof how a diffractive approach may be fruitful in ethnographicresearch, when trying to reconcile epistemological differences incross-disciplinary endeavours.The thesis is itself a product of multidisciplinary cooperation, inwhich the researcher is affiliated with the milieus the Departmentof Art and Cultural Sciences and the Basal Ganglia DisordersLinnaeus Consortium (Bagadilico) of the Medical Faculty, bothat Lund University, as well as the Learning and Media Technology(LET) Studio at Gothenburg University.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund University Open Access, 2019. p. 210
Series
Lund Studies in Arts and Cultural Sciences, ISSN 2001-7529, E-ISSN 2001-7510 ; 21
National Category
Ethnology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-54390 (URN)978-91-983690-8-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
(English)
Opponent
Available from: 2022-08-15 Created: 2022-08-15 Last updated: 2023-01-10Bibliographically approved

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