Bioinformatics imaginaries in the engine-room of genomic health policy

integration and heterogeneity in India and the UK

  • Alex Faulkner University of Sussex

Abstract

Bioinformatics comprises a diffuse field of technologies, knowledges, databases and software for medical and pharmaceutical innovation. It is becoming a major target of policymaking for global health goals, but experiences conflicts including over ownership and access; national versus commercial agendas; disease targeting; genomic versus clinical data. The paper draws on the political economy of states, and the performativity of policy and ‘sociotechnical imaginaries’ to identify diverging framings and imaginaries in a comparison of India and the UK. It argues that bioinformatics policies are diversified in India and increasingly co-ordinated in the UK; integration of clinical with genomic data is more prominent in the UK and more geared to hegemonic ‘platform’ technologies; India has more nation-focused, societal policy in disease strategies, and notable heterogeneity in the social production of genomic knowledge. The paper develops STS concepts by linking them to political state theory, highlighting social heterogeneity in technoscientific innovation.