Accepted Paper:

Platform builders as sociotechnical engineers. The role of next-generation sequencing industrialists in translational genomics  


Ashveen Peerbaye (Université Paris-Est)

Paper long abstract:

Recent advances in genomics - including sequencing technologies and their novel uses in clinical settings - are believed to herald the advent of personalized medicine, enabling more efficient diagnostics, optimizing treatments delivered to patients and improving quality of life. One of the challenges of this move towards "personalization" is aligning current understandings of disease-causing mutations and genetic dispositions with clinical practices and health policies. The intervention of "next-generation" genomic technologies and the generalized use of genomic information are often described as playing a key role in this translation. However the actual practices involved in articulating the different collectives engaged in this movement is not well documented.

This contribution is based on interviews with industrial actors and an ongoing ethnography of a French trial in oncology involving next-generation sequencing. It aims at highlighting the role played by genomics companies along the translational continuum spanning from basic biological research biology to clinical research and trials. I suggest that platform builders in genomics do not simply commercialise integrated systems of hard- and software that enable the acquisition, treatment, analysis and circulation of genomic data. They actively engage with researchers, clinicians, healthcare experts and policy-makers in a variety of settings, and help articulate these social worlds. This involvement in the definition of technical protocols, interpretive schemes, quality standards and best practices, in issues of clinical certification and accreditation, or ethical conundrums (eg. management of incidental findings) helps build trust in - and shape the converging uses of - the generic technologies of genomics.

Panel E2
Coproduction of emerging biomedical technologies