Integrating ELSA into CCBIO
CCBIO’s ELSA team is a dedicated research group on the ethical, legal and social aspects of cancer biomarkers. The group’s model is that of “integrated ELSA”, namely to build ELSA awareness and capacity throughout the CCBIO by interaction both in the scientific venues and the governance bodies of the center, including a dedicated PhD course.
Roger Strand is a trained natural scientist (cand. scient. (biochemistry, 1992) and dr. scient., (biochemistry, 1998), both degrees from the University of Bergen, Norway). Ever since his dissertational work, which combined biochemistry with philosophy of biochemistry, he has worked on issues of methodological underdetermination in science, scientific uncertainty and complexity. This has gradually led his research into broader strands of philosophy, ethics and social research and broader issues of policy, decision-making and governance at the science-society interface.
Strand’s group performs research on the ethical, legal and societal aspects (ELSA) of CCBIO’s research, distinguishing between two interrelated goals:
1. A better understanding of the developments, expectations, and imaginaries of personalized and precision cancer medicine, including its political economy and ethical and social issues.
2. A better integration of this understanding into practices of “responsible cancer research” in the sense of RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation).
The ELSA group of CCBIO is a smallscale operation that can be seen as one project. They interact and are tightly linked, however, to similar ongoing RRI projects (NFR Res Publica and AFINO, and Horizon 2020 SuperMoRRI and TRANSFORM). They are furthermore performing a joint program on the opportunities and challenges of precision cancer medicine with a team of CCBIO ethicists, economists, and biomedical researchers. In 2021, the group reached an important milestone, namely submission of the interdisciplinary research anthology “Precision Oncology and Cancer Biomarkers: Issues at Stake and Matters of Concern”, edited by Anne Bremer and Roger Strand. Later in 2021, the anthology was accepted for publication by Springer Publishing.
Recent important results
Strand’s group builds insights and intellectual understanding (for peers) and ELSA/RRI awareness, within the consortium and its partners and audiences. In 2021, the key focus was interdisciplinary analysis of the sociotechnical imaginaries of personalized and precision cancer medicine, resulting in the above mentioned 16-chapter research anthology. In general, it can be said that the group has searched for reframings of cancer, and such re-framings have been presented in the anthology, drawing on complexity theory, medical philosophy, Daoist philosophy, science and technology studies, post-normal science, health technology assessment, et cetera. Strand believes this project can be seen as, if not finalized, at least reaching its final stage.
The challenge of practical relevance remains, and also the challenge of dissemination of our research results, which have the quite narrow view of precision oncology and cancer biomarkers and at the same time require an adequate level of scholarship for their
CCBIO has entered its second 5-year period. Before 2023, the group’s challenge is to create a level of ELSA and RRI awareness in CCBIO as such, and to have made a difference on how cancer biomarker research is and will be performed at the University of Bergen. In this work, they will search for synergy with the Centre for Digital Life Norway, which has a strong RRI profile and of which CCBIO is an associated partner, and with international collaborations. CCBIO can in many ways be seen as “best practice” for RRI. It is important for the Strand group to translate their work in CCBIO into contributions to the wider field of RRI and governance of science. It is also important for the group to take part in the overall endeavor for CCBIO to summarize, analyze and synthesize the accumulated scientific progress that CCBIO has led to over its 10 years of existence.
See Strand's publication list.