International Conference Towards personalized medicine? Exploring biomarkers in practice
        June 28-29, 2012 _ Aula am Campus, University of Vienna, Austria
        With plenaries by Pascale Bourret, Alberto Cambrosio, Margaret Lock, Barbara Prainsack and Nikolas Rose
         
        > Conference Homepage
         
        Call for Papers
        Over the past two decades, researchers around the globe have been busily mining human body parts and bodily fluids in search of measurable substances that help to represent human life and to intervene in it in new ways. Blood samples have been scanned in order to find proteins that might help to detect Alzheimer’s Disease with a simple blood test at an early stage of disease progression; genomes of patients suffering from particularly aggressive types of prostate cancer have been mined for SNPs that might be associated with an elevated risk of dying from prostate cancer. And cancers have been genotyped to identify targets for more personalized cancer therapies. This work on “biomarkers” is not altogether new – some biomarkers have been used in health-care practice for decades. However, in the context of the “(gen-)omic revolution,” expectations and financial resources invested in this type of research and in infrastructures that make this research possible have grown substantially. This massive effort to re-order human diseases and develop novel treatment strategies is still very much in the making. At the planned international conference we nonetheless wish to explore what this research for biomarkers implies for the daily practices of medical research and health care, and what kinds of futures are generated through the emerging biomarker practices.
        We invite contributions from the perspectives of social sciences and humanities that explore biomarkers in practice and study the factors that contribute to the emergence of biomarkers as critical forces in contemporary medical research and health care. Papers should either explore translation processes of biomarker candidates, or/and discuss the various effects that biomarkers create, such as in daily health care practice, and explore the cultural impacts of the new developments in the biomarker field in biomedicine and society. Presentations might use examples that come from currently used or developed biomarkers; or discuss historical cases of biomarkers development and utilization.
        Abstracts of roughly 300 words should be sent to doris.bichlwagner[at]univie.ac.at by April 22, 2012.
Accepted presenters will be notified by April 30, 2012.
        Workshop Biomarkers in practice. Unpacking pasts, presents and futures
        June 6-7, 2011 _ Brocher Foundation, Geneva (Switzerland)
        In this workshop, we want to empirically unpack biomarkers from a historical and a social science perspective, tackling such explorations of biomarkers as a strategy helping us to develop a better understanding of the governance of life, today, and - perhaps - start to think about possible bio-futures. We take both a) the current revitalization of biomarker research and b) the plethora of biomarkers that are already used in clinical practices as good reasons to explore past, present and future health-care practices through unpacking biomarkers.
        In particular, we wish to think through the topic of biomarkers and their agency by unpacking concrete examples of biomarkers, exploring empirically a) how these biomarkers are developed, downstreamed and adapted in health-care practices; and b) what biomarkers, in turn, 'do', that is what sort of effects they (help) trigger in their trajectories towards downstream applications as well as in observable health-care practices. Moreover, c) we also wish to develop a more contextual understanding of biomarkers and their agency, seeking to use them as a 'window' through which we can develop a better understanding of the governance of life, today, and start to think about possible or different futures.
        Therefore, we invite
        1) empirical paper contributions from the social sciences and humanities that 'open up the black box' of biomarkers and explore them in practice. That is, such contributions should 'unpack' biomarkers and explore how concrete examples of biomarkers have been developed in laboratories, shed light on the messy work of translating these candidates into downstream applications, and/or explore what biomarkers, in turn, have 'done' in these processes, or what they 'do' in bio-medical practices and the social and cultural field. Such examples might relate to current biomarkers; yet, they might also related to historical examples of biomarkers that could help us understand how these have shaped the identity of modern bio-medicine, and which kind of impact they had in the social and cultural field.
        2) we invite paper contributions that enroll concrete examples of biomarkers to think through past, current or future health-care practices, and their social and cultural implications.
        Our Second Workshop took place from October 26 to October 28, 2010 in London.
       

Members of the Biomarker Project team have been involved in the drafting of a COST Action proposal on “Bio-objects and their boundaries: Governing matters at the intersection of science, society and politics”. We are glad to inform you that this proposal has been approved. This Action will give the Biomarker Project the opportunity to be embedded into a large European network, thereby enhancing the value of any research findings.

        To learn more about this Action visit the COST-Website, or return to this webpage in the future.
We will keep you posted.
      The project was launched with a Kick-Off Workshop that took place in Vienna
from January 8 to January 9, 2010.
Updated 02.05.2012