Social scientists commenting on developments in the life sciences have suggested that the rise of genomics in the field of human genetics does not only involve a shift in the research agenda from relatively rare monogenetic disorders to multifactorial, common diseases, but also involves a transformation on the institutional level of research regimes. In the (Dutch) genomics landscape, in which such research regimes are embedded, increasingly dominant values and objectives exert pressures on researchers to collaborate with industrial partners and to valorize knowledge results. To assess how these pressures are actually taken up and transforming research regimes, a multi-level approach is developed and applied in two case studies in which regimes are characterized in terms of the identities of actors, the knowledge and products exchanged and the principles that coordinate these exchanges. We describe the dominant regime in a typical genomics research field (Alzheimer's disease) as compared to the regime in a typical clinical genetics research field (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy) and show whether and how these research regimes are transforming in response to landscape pressures. The analysis shows that the AD regime has not been transformed against the background of changing landscape expectations and that the DMD regime did change, but under the condition of maturation. Developments on the level of genomics research regimes follow a dynamics of their own more than reflecting a changing genomics landscape.
- Multi-level approach
- Research regime
- University–industry relations