Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society

Research at the Centre

Research at the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society

image of people as data

Our work involves the following themes:

  • Beyond Bodies

  • Beyond Disease

  • Beyond Engagement

  • Beyond Legal

  • Beyond Global

  • Beyond Data

  • Beyond Sex


Beyond Bodies explores how the ‘body’ is understood and transformed through interaction between biomedicine and publics, and between humans and health-related technologies. 

Beyond Disease examines how new biomedical practices, including novel ways of accessing and interpreting data through data intensive research, challenge and define disease entities, diagnostic categories, treatment options and the processes of preventive, predictive and personalised care. 

The Beyond Engagement theme seeks to develop new, critical understandings of the role of ‘engagements’ in relation to knowledge production. ‘Engagements’, as we conceive of them, go beyond traditional or standard forms of “public engagement” as it is often understood, to span a broad range of activities that involve different actors and groups in the research process. Patient-led research, “patient and public involvement”, citizen science, co-production in research, and even research participation itself are all potentially forms of engagements, offering the opportunity to reconceptualise traditional roles and relationships within the process of knowledge production. By bringing together our own experiences across these different activities with interdisciplinary academic approaches to theorising and analysing the role of engagements and engagement practices, we aim to deepen our normative understanding of what engagements can and should achieve, and to connect this to our own and others’ practice.  

Our research in Beyond Legal explores the multiple ways in which law and regulation intersect with health and biomedicine. We examine the various roles, understandings and effects of law in relation to Biomedicine, Self and Society: for example, shaping and being shaped by health care and research practice; reinforcing or disrupting normative ideas around health, bodies and society; and directing and responding to health care and biomedical innovation. Through this, we aim to develop new interdisciplinary understandings of how law and regulation are constructed, (co-)produced, understood and operationalised in relation to health care and biomedical research and innovation. 

Beyond Global explores how new spatial and temporal configurations of health and illness are created through the movement of people and pathogens, goods and policies, data and finance, and through the activities of the agencies that seek to promote or regulate such movement. Drawing on feminist, intersectional and decolonising perspectives, it seeks not just to describe these processes, but to understand and critique their implications for equity and social justice in high- as much as low- and middle-income settings. 

Data plays a central role in biomedicine, not just as a means of apprehending, understanding and engaging with health and illness, but as an increasingly prominent element, in its own right, in biomedical work practices, infrastructures and value propositions. We accordingly look Beyond Data to examine how the development of ever more extensive and complex data practices contributes to the changing epistemic, social, ethical, legal and economic relations of biomedicine. 

Beyond Sex engages with sexual and reproductive health that includes, but also moves beyond ‘reproduction’ as the primary foci. While surrogacy, fertility and maternal health are important, we are also keen to consider how non-reproductive experiences (menopause, sterility, endometriosis, sexual rights, hormone therapy, gender, etc) shape our questions around biotechnologies & biomedical practices within SRHR. The theme will focus on and critically engage with if, how and where sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) & social justice intersect with biomedicine, health and wellbeing, by paying attention to bodies, illness, technologies and mobilities. In particular, we ask how the concept of sex mediates the relationship between bodies, health, technologies and how moving beyond (not away from sex) changes the lens with which we approach these configurations.