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Soraya de Chadarevian

1988, PhD in Philosophy, University of Konstanz, Germany
1978, Advanced degree (Diplom) in Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany
1974, first degree (Vordiplom) in Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany

Soraya de Chadarevian is professor in the Department of History and the Institute for Society and Genetics.  Her main area of interest is the history of twentieth-century biomedical sciences, including more recent developments. She has a background in biology and philosophy as well as in the history of science and among others has held fellowhips at the Walther Rathenau Program and at the Max Planck Institute for History of Science in Berlin; at La Villette in Paris; at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research and at Churchill College Cambridge.

She is interested in the material practices of the biomedical sciences and the place of these sciences in the broader culture as well as in historiographical issues, including the question of sources for the history of science. She has worked extensively on the history of molecular biology and the complex cultural processes that participated in the development of the new science after World War II. Her publications on this topic include the monograph Designs for Life: Molecular Biology after World War II (Cambridge 2002; reprinted 2003); the exhibition catalogue Representations of the Double Helix (Whipple Museum 2002); the co-edited volume Molecularizing Biology and Medicine: New Strategies and Alliances, 1910s-1970s (Harwood 1998); two co-edited journal issues as well as numerous articles and book chapters. Other publications include the co-edited volume Models: The Third Dimension of Science (Stanford 2004).

Currently she is working on the history of heredity, more specifically on the genetic practices that developed in response to concerns of the atomic age such as low-dose irradiation experiments and human chromosome analysis, as well as on the changing culture of biological research that accompanied the rise of biotechnology in the 1970s. She has also been a co-organizer of the Mellon Foundation supported project on DNA and History at UCLA. She teaches courses on genetics and society and related issues in the Institute as well as more general history of science, technology and medicine courses for undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of History.

Selected Publications:

Chromosome photography and the human karyotype, Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 45 (2014), 115-146.

Populations and Human Heredity after 1945. Special issue, guest-edited with J. Bangham, Studies in History and Philosophy in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47 (2014), 45-190.

Chromosome surveys of human populations: Between epidemiology and anthropology, Studies in History and Philosophy in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47 (2014), 87-96.

Putting human genetics on a solid basis: human chromosome research, 1950s-1970s, in B.Gausemeier, S.Müller-Wille, E. Ramsden (eds), Human Heredity in the Twentieth Century (London: Pickering & Chatto Publishers
2013), pp. 141-152.

Things and the archives of recent sciences, Studies in History and Philosophy 44 (2013), 634-638.

Epistemology and history, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 35 (2013), 13-18.

The making of an entrepreneurial science: biotechnology in Britain, 1975-1995, Isis 102 (2011), 601-633.

The comparative and the exemplary: revisiting the early history of molecular biology, (with B. Strasser), History of Science 49 (2011), 317-336.

BioHistories, guest-edited special issue. BioSocieties 5/3 (Sept 2010), 301-405

Disciplinary Histories and the History of Disciplines: The Case of Molecular Biology. Special issue, co-edited with H.-J. Rheinberger. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40 (2009), 1-71.

Microstudies versus big picture accounts? Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40 (2009), 13-19.

Rosalind Franklin e i suoi difensori, in E. Gagliasso and F. Zucco (eds), Il genere nel paesaggio scientifico (Roma: Aracne editrice, 2007), pp. 89-107.

Mice and the reactor: The ‘genetic experiment’ in 1950s Britain, Journal of the History of Biology 39 (2006), 707–735.

Models. The Third Dimension of Science, co-edited with N. Hopwood (Stanford University Press 2004).

Models and the making of molecular biology, in S. de Chadarevian and N. Hopwood (eds), Models. The Third Dimension of Science (Standford University Press, 2004), pp. 339–368; German in C. Blümle and A. Schäfer (eds.) Abstraktion in Kunst und Lebenswissenschaften (Zuerich and Berlin: Diaphanes, 2007), pp. 173-197.

Relics, replicas and commemorations, Endeavour 27, no. 2, June 2003, 75–79.

Portrait of a discovery: Watson, Crick and the double helix, Isis 94 (2003), 95–105.

Reconstructing life: molecular biology in postwar Britain, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 33 (2002), 431–448.

Designs for Life. Molecular Biology after World War II (Cambridge University Press 2002; reprinted 2003; e-paperback 2011).

Of Worms and programmes: Caenorhabditis elegans and the study of development, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biology and Biomedical Sciences 1 (1998), 81–105.

Molecularizing Biology and Medicine. New Practices and Alliances, 1910s–1970s, co-edited with H. Kamminga (London: Harwood Academic Publishers 1998)

Following molecules: hemoglobin between the clinic and the laboratory, in S. de Chadarevian and H. Kamminga (eds), Molecularizing Biology and Medicine. New Practices and Alliances, 1910s–1970s (London: Harwood Academic Publishers 1998), pp. 171–201.

Sequences, conformation, information: biochemists and molecular biologists in the 1950s, Journal of the History of Biology 29 (1996), 361–386; Spanish: Secuencias, conformación, información: bioquímicos y biólogos moleculares en los años 50, Arbor 156 (1997), 15–44).

Laboratory science versus country-house experiments: the controversy between Julius Sachs and Charles Darwin, British Journal for the History of Science 29 (1996), 17–41; Japanese translation in Newsletter of the Japanese Society for Plant Physiology 11 (2002), 51–82.

Graphical method and discipline: self-recording instruments in nineteenth-century physiology, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science 24 (1993) 267–291;. German version: Die ‘Methode der Kurven’ in der Physiologie zwischen 1850 und 1900, in Michael Hagner and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (eds), Die Experimentalisierung des Lebens. Experimentalsysteme in den biologischen Wissenschaften 1850/1950 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1993), pp. 28–49; repr. in M. Hagner (ed.), Ansichten der Wissenschaftsgeschichte (Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuchverlag, 2001), pp. 161–188.

Zwischen den Diskursen. Maurice Merleau-Ponty und die Wissenschaften (Könighausen und Neumann, 1990).


Dr. de Chadarevian’s faculty page at the Department of History.
DNA and History project