Stem cell research has been marked by scientific, ethical, and juridical concerns for nearly two decades. Additionally, stem cell therapy has wide-ranging implications for medical practice and for the future of bioscience, but important cultural differences in clinics and labs remain under-analyzed. This project focuses on the rise of stem cell research and epistemic cultures in three different labs that translate stem cell research into frontier science and stem cell therapies as they shift towards a market-oriented political culture of commercialization. The three labs to be investigated differ in terms of their transnational funding and networks, their standards for evidence-controlled experiments, their verification by the larger scientific community, and their level of commercialization. Instead of analyzing stem cell research through the lens of the nation-state, this project focuses on cultural differences of stem cell science within a nation. It thus investigates a broad range of settings that make knowledge production and circulation possible in stem cell research.

This project investigates the mechanics of knowledge production in three laboratories in the context of the shift towards market-oriented political culture of science. It has two main objectives: (1) Investigation of differences in the epistemic cultures of stem cell research at the three laboratories by exploring differences in the deployment of literary, social, and material technologies in the production of scientific knowledge. It explores whether and how differences in the mechanics of knowledge production explain the differing epistemological and social responses towards the epistemic things produced at these three laboratories. (2) Investigation of the impact of the shifting market-oriented political culture of science on the three stem cell laboratories. The project, thus, explores: (a) how political culture has impacted the practices of the three laboratories, and (b) whether and how the national and international networks of the laboratories have led to differential impact on the credibility of the scientific practices at those laboratories despite their being located within the same regulatory regime.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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John Parker
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University of Missouri-Columbia
United States
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