Innovation is the word of the year for University Researchers, and medical research is at the forefront of the drive to discover new aspects of human biology and develop new clinical treatments. We tend to think that innovation takes place in a laboratory and only later does it enter the lives of patients and non-scientists. It is easy to forget that medical research needs willing participants to undergo clinical trials and to donate living materials – tissues, blood, genetic material – so that innovative research can take place. In this talk I will present an overview of my research on social aspects of tissue donation for medical research. I will focus in particular on the area of embryo and egg donation for stem cell research, and the complex decisions that women and couples make about whether to donate or not.
Professor Waldby researches and publishes in social studies of biomedicine and the life sciences. Her recent books include Clinical Labour: Tissue donors and Research Subjects in the Global Bioeconomy (with Melinda Cooper, Duke University Press 2014) and The Global Politics of Human Embryonic Stem Cell Science: Regenerative Medicine in Transition, (with Herbert Gottweis and Brian Salter, Palgrave 2009). With Nikolas Rose and Ilina Singh, she is the editor of BioSocieties: an interdisciplinary journal for the social studies of life sciences. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and has received national and international research grants for her work on embryonic stem cells.