Jeske Dissertation Defense

Organs and Humans on Chips: Translation, Biomedical Models, and the Political Economy of Innovation 

Melanie Jeske

Monday, May 23- 10am

Mission Hall 2106

(Mission Bay Campus: 550 16th St.)

or via Zoom


In the wake of mounting concerns regarding translational failure between bench research to bedside therapies, new actors, fields, and technologies now promise to disrupt existing biomedical research practices. In this dissertation, I offer a sociological account of novel biomedical technologies called organ chips. Organ chips are models of human organs that have the potential to transform pharmaceutical testing and provide new insights into human pathophysiology by replacing animal models in biomedical research. I document how organ chips emerge as productive and valuable tools, tracing how they are imagined and brought into fruition by a diverse set of actors across government, industry, and academic sectors. The ways in which the translational crisis is constructed fuel particular formations of research teams, funding structures, and kinds of health interventions, that together render organ chips the ‘right’ tool for resolving this crisis. I examine how the very notion of a model being “human enough” is socially negotiated. Thus I argue that the interests that elevate these technologies and their value also shape their very design. In doing so, I excavate the sociality of science, including the social negotiations requisite for scientific work as well as the power relations at play in shaping the production of novel biomedical technologies. 


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