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Professor Adam Hedgecoe

Professor Adam Hedgecoe

Director of Research

School of Social Sciences

Media commentator


I although I have a mixed educational background in philosophy, bioethics and the history and philosophy of science, I am now a sociologist of science with an interest in biomedical science (especially genetics) and its regulation. I have published widely on the impact on professional practice of genetic tests and decision making in research ethics committees.


Career Overview

Education and qualifications

Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science.  1996 – 2000: Department of Science & Technology Studies, University College London. 'Narratives of Geneticization: Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes and Schizophrenia': sociological critique of the concept of geneticization.

M.A. in Applied Philosophy (Distinction).  1993 – 1994: Department of Philosophy, University of Hull. Distinction in dissertation on effects of genetic testing on private health insurance.

B.A. (Hons.) in Philosophy and Psychology (2.1).  1990 – 1993: University of Durham, UK.










  • Sociology of biomedical science (especially genomics)
  • The social shaping of socio-technical expectations
  • Sociology of bioethics

I am a sociologist of science and technology, although my work sits at the intersection of STS, medical sociology and bioethics.

I have two main areas of interest. The first is the impact on professional practice of genetic tests, which I have published on since 1996, and which I have explored through my Ph.D. (which looked at the geneticization of medical discourse), a Wellcome trust funded postdoc (on the clinical uptake of pharmacogenetics) and my previous role as Associate Director of the ESRC Cesagen centre. Currently I am running a Wellcome Trust funded project looking at the challenges around clinical uncertainty raise by new sequecning technologies.

My second area of interest is in the relationship between sociology and biothics, both in terms of what empirical sociology can offer bioethicists (sociology in bioethics) and the sociological exploration of bioethics as a social phenomenon (sociology of bioethics). In this latter area, I ran a four-country comparative ethnography of Research Ethics Committees (RECs), and have a particular interest in the history and sociology of RECs in the UK.

I have supervised PhD students looking at parents' attitudes to vaccination in the wake of the MMR debates, the development of IVF services in Mexico, amniocentesis for Downs Syndrome, the impact of Non-Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis technologies, and the personal and professional challenges raised by personal genomics amongst others.  I am interested in supervising anyone interested in the sociology of biomedical science or the public understanding of science.


Areas of expertise