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9th EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2008

Jane Calvert, University of Edinburgh, UK

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Jane Calvert

Biography

Jane Calvert is a social scientist and Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, based in the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Innogen Centre. She has an undergraduate degree in Human Sciences from the University of Sussex and an MSc in the History and Philosophy of Science from the London School of Economics. She did her doctoral work at SPRU (Science and Technology Policy Research), University of Sussex, on the idea of "basic research".

After her PhD she worked as a Research Fellow at SPRU on biotechnology policy. She then moved to the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society at the University of Exeter, where she became interested in the insights that the philosophy of biology can bring to the social study of genomics. Her work focused on intellectual property issues, showing that ideas about the nature of genes and genomes have implications for patentability. At Edinburgh, Jane's broad area of research is in the production, translation and commodification of knowledge in the life sciences. She is currently studying the emergence, development and epistemic aspirations of both systems biology and synthetic biology.

Abstract

Calculating life? A sociological perspective on systems biology

To some, the recent enthusiasm around Systems Biology might seem to reflect merely a passing fad; to others, the opportunity to apply familiar techniques to a new arena; and to still others, the occasion for deep reflection about what disciplines that have been historically isolated from the life sciences might have to offer to the study of biology. In this paper, I focus on the last of these options, looking in particular at the tension between different cultural traditions regarding the place of simplicity and complexity in scientific analysis.