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Professor Adam Hedgecoe

Professor Adam Hedgecoe


Media commentator
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am 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.

Past projects

Co-Supervisor (lead) for Lydia Harper, “An ethnographic study of children, young adults and their families’ experiences and perceptions of Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON)”, (awarded 2019).

Co-Supervisor (lead) for Rhiannon Lane, “Exploring how lay and professional causal explanations for mental illness are implicated in the stigmatisation, understandings, and experiences of mental illness”, (awarded 2018).

Co-Supervisor for Tim Banks, “What is the relationship between identity and acquired brain injury (ABI) with particular reference to rehabilitation?”, (awarded 2017)

Co-Supervisor (lead) for Chris Goldsworthy, “Genetic Testing for Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome and the British Coronial System”, ESRC Studentship, (awarded 2016).

Co-Supervisor for Sophie Gould, “Lengthening Lifespan / Using Life? An ethnographic exploration of the emergent scientific field of Biogerontology”, ESRC Studentship, (awarded 2016).

Co-Supervisor (lead) for Simon Reed, “The Cultural Representation of Older People: Ageism in the Health and Social Care Sector”, ESRC Studentship, (awarded 2016).

Co-Supervisor (lead) for Heather Strange, “Women's situated reasoning on emerging Non-Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis technologies (NIPD)”, NISCHR Studentship, (awarded 2016).

Co-Supervisor (lead) for Teresa Finlay, “The users’ experiences of direct to consumer genetic testing (DTCGT) for inherited disease risk and clinicians’ perceptions of its impact on genetics services”, ESRC Studentship, (awarded 2015).

Co-Supervisor for Gareth Thomas, “The Marked Child: Prenatal Testing and the Construction of Down’s Syndrome”, ESRC Studentship, (awarded 2014).

Co-Supervisor (lead) for Sandra Gonzalez-Santos, “The Sociocultural Aspects of Assisted Reproduction in Mexico”. National Council of Science and Technology, Mexico (CONACYT) Studentship, (awarded 2011).

Co-Supervisor (lead) for Allan Leach, “The Influence Of The Public Understanding Of Science In Maintaining Herd Immunity Against Childhood Illnesses In England” (awared 2008).

Areas of expertise

External profiles