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Egenis · Research

Between the clinic and the laboratory: Biomedical research in praxis

Christine Hauskeller and Dana Wilson-Kovacs

Start date



Homepages: , Email: m.d.wilson-kovacs@exeter.ac.uk


By opening up to investigation the strategies through which occupational boundaries are created and monitored in novel biomedical technologies, this project explores further specific findings from the cross-national case study (RES-349-25-0002).

Our analysis of the context-dependence in which European regulation becomes implemented in individual national settings for both embryonic and adult stem cell research highlighted the current lack of understanding regarding:

  • The role, place and use of regulation in the organisation of clinical trials and in particular the recruitment of patients and clinical trial practice
  • The tensions present in interdisciplinary collaborations and the strategies through which individual and collective actors address and resolve such tensions
  • The professional role of the clinician-scientist


The current project concentrates on the last of these three aspects. The use of stem cells in novel medical applications is seen as an interdisciplinary, collaborative pursuit. Clinicians and scientists work together to understand the issues involved in the advancement of successful treatments. A key role in these developments is held by the clinician-scientist – a new professional role emerging at the interface of the laboratory and the clinic. The clinician scientist is the linking lead actor with actual and recognized expertise in both science and medicine.

Our aims are:

  1. To document the position of clinician-scientists in the context of stem cell research
  2. To fine-tune broader arguments on inter and intra-professional shifts
  3. To inform policy through a specific focus on views of collaborative enterprise in stem cell research as it unfolds in everyday clinical and laboratory practices

Our objectives are:

  1. To examine how different professional outlooks and distinct organisational structures facilitate the development and progress of stem cell research
  2. To understand how divisions of labour and hierarchies of expertise are established and maintained in this process


This project uses several sources (government reports, commentaries in medical journals and personal testimonies) and a combination of documentary and ethnographic methods. The documentary methods involve a critical review of the medical literature on the position of the clinician-scientist and textual analysis of policy documents. We also conduct ethnographic interviews to explore in-depth the experiences of clinician-scientists and colleagues involved in collaborative stem cell research.


Wilson-Kovacs, D. and Hauskeller, C. ‘The clinician-scientist: professional dynamics in clinical stem cell research‘, Sociology of Health and Illness, 2011 Vol 34 (4), published online 30 August 2011.


Wilson-Kovacs, D. and Hauskeller, C. ‘Professional Roles And Self-Understanding In Stem Cell Research For Heart Repair: The Challenges Of Collaborative Enterprise’, BSA Medical Conference, University of Manchester, 4 September 2009.

Wilson-Kovacs, D. and Hauskeller, C. ‘Stem Cell Clinical Trials For Cardiac Repair: The Challenges And Opportunities Of Interdisciplinary Research’, UK Cardiovascular Collaborative on Stem Cell Repair of the Heart, UCL, 24 September 2009.

Wilson-Kovacs, D. and Hauskeller, C. ‘The (Re-)Production Of Regulation: The Clinical Implementation Of Adult Stem Cell Treatments In The UK And Germany’, EGN Conference, Cardiff University, 7–9 October 2009.