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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


James Lowe

James Lowe
Dr James Lowe
Research Fellow
Science Technology and Innovation Studies School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
2.07 Old Surgeons' Hall High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
+44 (0)131 6502 842
Research Interests
Genomics, History of science, History of biological sciences, variation, Translation, biotechnology, Philosophy of science, philosophy of biology


After completing my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences in 2006, I worked in education and the pharmaceutical industry. In 2009, I developed my interest in the historical and conceptual aspects of biology by completing an MA in History and Philosophy of Biology at the University of Exeter.

My PhD research concerned the American biologist Edmund Beecher Wilson (1856-1939) and the role of normal development in his early work in experimental embryology. I have presented on Wilson and on normal development and its role in experimental systems in biology, and have published articles based on this research which examines the place and significance of biological variation in current scientific questions, methods and theory.

From October 2015 to July 2016 I worked on a project concerning in vivo skills in animal research, funded by the British Pharmacological Society and based at the University of Exeter. I was the lead author of the report produced as a result of this project. Building on my interest in scientific practice, I am currently interested in translational research, and this forms a key part of the new project I am working on here at University of Edinburgh, on the history of the pig genome mapping and sequencing initiatives:


Research Interests

Genomics History of science History of biological sciences variation Translation biotechnology Philosophy of science philosophy of biology

Current Projects

Medical translation in the history of modern genomics (TRANSGENE)

The translation of basic biomedical research into clinical practice has become a central concern for science policy. Policies to foster translation are being applied to large amounts of genomic information available in open-access databases. This information is the result of concerted initiatives that, in the early 2000s, determined the full genetic sequence that characterises humans and other organisms. However, when the initiatives started the goal of determining the full sequence and making the resulting information available was not universally supported. The TRANSGENE project will investigate how and why this objective of completing the sequence was adopted in preference to other models that prioritised the usability of the data. Combining archival research with interviews and insights from social studies of science and Innovation Studies, my focus is on the projects to map and then sequence the genome of the domesticated pig, Sus scrofa domesticus.

Principal investigator: Miguel García-Sancho
Funded by the European Research Council

PhD Supervision

PhD Topics

History of genetics, history of genomics, history of embryology/developmental biology, history of biology, philosophical aspects and implications of genetics/genomics, philosophy of science in practice.

Find out more about the programmes that I am involved with:

PhD in Science and Technology Studies; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies


Journal Articles:

2016: "Normal development and experimental embryology: Edmund Beecher Wilson and Amphioxus". Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Vol. 57: 44-59. [Pre-proof copy]

2015: "Managing variation in the investigation of organismal development: problems and opportunities". History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences. DOI: 10.1007/s40656-015-0089-3. [Pre-proof copy]

2015: "Book review: 'Science in the twentieth century and beyond' by Jon Agar". New Genetics and Society, Vol. 34 No. 3: 338-340.


December 2016: (with Collis M, Davies G, Leonelli S, Lewis DI and Zecharia AY) "An evaluation of the Integrative Pharmacology Fund: Lessons for the future of in vivo education and training". London, UK: British Pharmacological Society. [Online copy]

Encyclopaedia Articles:

2016: "Human Genome Project as a Social Enterprise". In: eLS [Encyclopaedia of the Life Sciences]. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd. doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005650.pub2

2015: "‘Amphioxus, and the Mosaic Theory of Development’ (1893), by Edmund Beecher Wilson". Embryo Project Encyclopedia (2015-03-31). ISSN: 1940-5030

2014: "‘Experimental Studies on Germinal Localization’ (1904), by Edmund B. Wilson". Embryo Project Encyclopedia (2014-12-22). ISSN: 1940-5030