Foti Dissertation Defense

WGVCV and Zoom

PhD Dissertation Defense

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Commoning Pharmaceutical Knowledge: A Sociological Analysis of Collective Action to “Open” Pharma

Nicole Foti

Access to medicines is a critical ongoing challenge to advancing goals of health equity. Recent changes in the political economic and technoscientific domains of pharmaceuticals begs a reexamination of shifting processes in this space, especially emergent forms of collective action to address structural conditions underpinning drug development. In particular, two trends in science – open science and community biology – have created the social and technical conditions through which new alternative imaginaries have emerged to research, develop, and make medicines. This dissertation offers an ethnographic account of the process of commoning pharmaceutical knowledge through open science and lay participation in drug research. Drawing on 29 in-depth interviews, over 300 hours of observations, and content review of journal articles and organizational policies and websites, I trace an emergent movement to apply open science principles and practices to the research and making of pharmaceuticals, an area I refer to as open pharma. I examine two sites: The first site is a citizen science initiative that leverages a direct social action approach to produce insulin in a community-based biology lab. Findings identify the ways in which the politics of expertise, safety regulations, scientific infrastructure, and mechanisms of internal governance impacted the group’s capacity to produce safe, affordable insulin. For my second site, I interview leaders in universities and nonprofits engaged in pharmaceutical research without patents. I illustrate the active building and institutionalizing of open pharma, including how actors negotiate and draw on market logics to advance this new movement of thought. By tracing movement practices and aims, this research illuminates the consequences of alternative ways to organize scientific knowledge production and explores the potential for these projects to intervene in inequities perpetuated by the biopolitical economy of health and illness.

When: Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Time: 1pm

Where (in person): Mission Bay WGVCV

12th Floor, Becker Room

Zoom info: email [email protected]