Understanding the evolution of biomedicine

Personalized medicine, targeted therapies, evidence-based medicine… Biomedicine has undergone a major transformation over the past few decades. It is tempting to link this evolution solely to massive investments in biomedical research, notably in molecular biology and genomics. But we cannot disregard the much more fundamental transformations that this medical evolution has brought about. 

The members of the Équipe de recherche sur la régulation des pratiques et des connaissances biomédicales (Research Team on the Regulation of Biomedical Practices and Knowledge), directed by Alberto Cambrosio, are examining new protocols for therapeutic interventions that are increasingly produced and administered outside of the singular doctor-patient relationship. The translation of new knowledge into clinical resources and instruments runs up against numerous obstacles stemming from the complexity of the present biomedical system, the growing diversification of the many professionals working within it, and the massive quantity of medical information in circulation. 

To understand these new realities, the researchers are relying on empirical studies. They carried out an ethnographic analysis of the work of a group of clinicians during the development of a guide for clinical practices, observing the impact of different contexts (national or other). Other research pertains to a comparative study of two major clinical trials in breast cancer genomics – one in North America, the other in Europe – in which the role of biotechnology companies is particularly important. 

This research is accompanied by the development of (mostly computerized) tools and methods permitting the analysis of the reconfiguration of biomedical work in extended networks that are bringing together several hundred clinicians and researchers both within Canada and internationally. The results of this research have given rise to tools for reflection, notably on contemporary advances in biomedicine, taking equal care to avoid either frenzied enthusiasm or unqualified criticism, with the ultimate goal of encouraging public participation in the debate on the future of medicine.


Équipe de recherche sur la régulation des pratiques et des connaissances biomédicales


Alberto Cambrosio, Université McGill

Regular members

  • Peter Keating, Université du Québec à Montréal 
  • Thomas Schlich, Université McGill 
  • George Weisz, Université McGill