Stems and Standards: Social Interaction in the Search for Blood Stem Cells

Journal of the History of Biology 43 (1):67 - 109 (2010)

Melinda Bonnie Fagan
University of Utah
This essay examines the role of social interactions in the search for blood stem cells, in a recent episode of biomedical research. Linked to mid-20th century cell biology, genetics and radiation research, the search for blood stem cells coalesced in the 1960s and took a developmental turn in the late 1980s, with significant ramifications for immunology, stem cell and cancer biology. Like much contemporary biomedical research, this line of inquiry exhibits a complex social structure and includes several prominent scientific successes, recognized as such by participating researchers. I use personal interviews and the published record to trace the social interactions crucial for scientific success in this episode. All recognized successes in this episode have two aspects: improved models of blood cell development, and new interfaces with other lines of research. The narrative of the search for blood stem cells thus yields a robust account of scientific success in practice, which generalizes to other scientific episodes and lends itself to expansion to include wider social contexts
Keywords social epistemology  immunology  stem cells  collaboration  laboratory studies  scientific practice  Irving Weissman
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10739-008-9174-8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 39,645
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact.Ludwik Fleck - 1979 - University of Chicago Press.
The Immune Self: Theory or Metaphor?Alfred I. Tauber - 1994 - Cambridge University Press.
The Search for the Hematopoietic Stem Cell: Social Interaction and Epistemic Success in Immunology.Melinda B. Fagan - 2007 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 38 (1):217-237.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Integration of Specialties: An Institutional and Organizational View.Elihu M. Gerson - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):515-524.
Accountability and Values in Radically Collaborative Research.Eric Winsberg, Bryce Huebner & Rebecca Kukla - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 46:16-23.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Social Experiments in Stem Cell Biology.Melinda B. Fagan - 2011 - Perspectives on Science 19 (3):235-262.
Moral Complicity in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Research.Mark T. Brown - 2009 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 19 (1):pp. 1-22.
Stem Cell Research: An Ethical Evaluation of Policy Options.Nikolaus Knoepffler - 2004 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 14 (1):55-74.
The Ethics of Embryonic Stem Cell Research.Howard J. Curzer - 2004 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (5):533 – 562.
Ethical Issues in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research.Philip J. Nickel - 2008 - In Kristen Renwick Monroe, Ronald B. Miller & Jerome Tobis (eds.), Fundamentals of the Stem Cell Debate: The Scientific, Religious, Ethical & Political Issues. University of California Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
30 ( #254,211 of 2,325,860 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
7 ( #219,205 of 2,325,860 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature