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Colloquium Series: Natalie B. Aviles, Colby College
April 19, 2017 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Innovation in a “culture of planning”: HPV vaccines and translational research in the National Cancer Institute
This talk explores the role scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a US federal science agency, played in researching and testing vaccines for the human papillomavirus (HPV). Dr. Aviles argues that interpretations of “translational research” native to the NCI influenced these researchers’ efforts to design and test first- and second-generation HPV vaccines. Beginning in the 1990s, these understandings informed and were in turn formed by part of a broader “culture of planning” that administrators proposed to foster innovation in the Institute. Drawing upon recent insights from pragmatist sociological theory, she analyzes how solutions to scientific, managerial, and administrative problems were encoded into the organizational practices that supported this culture of planning. Over time, these organizational practices contributed to the emergence and stabilization of broader infrastructures for funding and collaboration around translational research. These infrastructures, which continue to influence cancer research policy, position the NCI as a countervailing and supplementary force in the field of translational cancer research and development. The case of HPV vaccine innovation in the NCI offers insights into the role meso-level phenomena play in shaping the direction of vaccine research and cancer policy, and demonstrate the importance of a processual and temporal approach to studying organizations in STS.