Global Health Network

Conference 'Social Sciences and Medical Innovations: Doing Things Together'

7 January 2015

Second annual internaitonal conference 'Social Sciences and Medical Innovations' will take place on May 21-23, 2015. This year's theme is Doing things together. Members of the GH-Net are on the organizing committee.

Innovations in medicine and public health require and facilitate cooperation, coordination and collaboration. However, working together happens neither ‘naturally’ nor smoothly. While new medical and healthcare technologies are commonly viewed as key to enabling healthier and longer lives, crossing disciplinary, institutional and political boundaries needed for their meaningful and responsive development and use is challenging. Furthermore, recently emerged attention to, and influx of funds into, large-scale and integrated health initiatives have been transforming the organization and practice of medical innovation, bringing novel uncertainties and points of contention along with the opportunities.

The conference addresses the dynamics and structures of engagements that are developing amidst the medical and healthcare innovation processes. It aims to examine how knowledge in the health domain is created, translated and used, drawing on variety of scientific genres; including studies of knowledge production, research in innovations implementation and use, studies of organizations and political economy, as well as assessment and valuation research. How are relations managed and uncertainties dealt with in heterogeneous social networks involved in health innovating? What kinds of socio-material forms and shifts are produced with the introduction of novel medical technologies? How do ideas of participation and inclusion play out in situations of disagreements regarding purposes, desirability and trajectories of health innovations? How can mutual learning, flexibility and responsiveness be arranged and facilitated? How is value created through innovating and for whom?

Social sciences play a central role in analyzing medical and public health innovations’ dynamics and understanding corresponding challenges. This conference aims to explore the complexities of working together in the domain of health innovations, engaging with the insights from the social sciences, including science and technology studies (STS), innovation studies, medical anthropology, sociology and history. Furthermore, it is meant to serve as a platform for dialogue between social and biomedical scientists, health professionals and policy makers, and for engagement between scholars and practitioners working in the field of medical innovations in the post-Soviet region and globally. The conference considers medical innovations on different levels (from bedside to national health systems and global programs) and of different kinds (from pharmaceuticals, devices, procedures, to delivery methods and organizational structures).


This conference is the second international event organized as a collaborative endeavor between Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and Tomsk State University, the Russian Federation, with the support from the Open Society Foundations. This tradition started in 2014 with the conference titled Social Sciences and Medical Innovations (for details see:

The scientific Advisory Committee of the conference series:

Klasien Horstman (Professor of the Philosophy of Public Health, Maastricht University)

Jessica Mesman (Associate Professor at the Department of Technology and Society Studies; Maastricht University)

Evgeniya Popova (Director of Research Centre for Policy Analysis and Studies of Technologies (REC PAST-Centre), National Research Tomsk State University).

Details of the Conference:

The Conference will take place on May 21-23, 2015, at the Center for Policy Analysis and Studies of Technologies, Tomsk, Russian Federation.

Language of the Conference: English.

The Conference will involve:

  • Key-Note lectures by Boel Berner (Professor at the Department of Technology and Social Change, Linköping University) and Bart Penders (Assistant Professor at the Department of Health, Ethics and Society, Maastricht University); followed by discussion sessions with professionals and academics from various fields.
  • Conference sessions covering the following topics:

- Innovations and governance: participatory and inclusive practices;

- Sociotechnical innovations: co-production of knowledge, communities and values;

- Societal challenges: addressing asymmetries, inequalities and exclusion;

- Standardization and adaptation: making innovations work;

- Medical histories: successes and failures of innovations.

  • Round table 'Linking history with the here and now: Post-Soviet public health and the biomedical sciences' led by Susanne Bauer (Associate Professor of Sociology of Knowledge, Faculty of Social Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt).

Please send your abstract by February 1st, 2015, to the conference organizers:

Abstracts submissions should be limited to 600 words (including a short CV of 100 words). The title of the paper should be limited to 10 words. To assist the program chairs to group the papers into the sessions, please indicate to which main topic your paper is related. In case it doesn’t fit any of the main topics please add three keywords. We plan to invite Conference participants to publish their chapters in an edited volume.

Open Society Foundations provides a limited number of travel and accommodation grants for those unable to fund themselves entirely. If you wish to apply for funding please provide a budget sheet and corresponding justification together with the abstract.

For more information, please, visit the website of the Center for Policy Analysis and Studies of Technologies, Tomsk State University:
and the website of the Department of Health, Ethics and Society, Maastricht University: