Translational Research: An Imperative Shaping the Spaces in Biomedicine

Jean Harrington, Christine Hauskeller


Abstract: In this paper we recapitulate the history of the conceptual entwinement of biomedicine and translation and argue that a translational imperative (still peripheral to the practices that order the fields unified under the term biomedicine) has come to dominate public and institutional perceptions of biomedical research. We show this by first delineating a brief history of the conceptual developments in the sociology of science and technology, in particular in relation to translation and the complex multiagent social interactions contributing to the structure of this field. We then report the findings from our studies of translational spaces and how the actors in them conceive of the imperatives. At least in the field of cell therapy research, the push toward translational research from funding and science policy institutions seems not to have altered greatly the established practices of validation and merit that organise the disciplinary complexes that form cell therapy biomedical research today.

Keywords: translational research; biomedicine; translational space; translational imperative; cell therapy.

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