Staff – University of Copenhagen

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Mette Nordahl Svendsen

Mette Nordahl Svendsen

Associate Professor

Current research

“ A life worth living: negotiating worthiness in human and animal”, funding from the Danish Research Council.

”Life at the margins: modeling pigs and humans in biomedical research”, funding from the Danish Research Council”.

“Moral reasoning and social responsibilities in translational medicine”, work package in the research platform NEOMUNE, see, funding from The Danish Council for Strategic Research.

Primary fields of research

What is a life worth living? What does the human become in the light of new advances in medical science and technology? In my research I explore the many ways in which biomedical knowledge production and its translation to the clinic are embroiled in existential questions of life worthiness. I take a particular interest in how relationships, boundaries, and exchanges between human and animal are practiced in the development of medical knowledge and technology and how life is understood and administered in the interface between laboratory and clinic. Central in this approach is an attention to the way human life is always entangled with other kinds of living beings.

My research is based on ethnographic fieldworks and draws theoretically on anthropology, sociology, and science and technology studies. The empirical studies I have carried out concern genetic testing, donations of embryos to human embryonic stem cell research, the use of human subjects in pharmacogenomics research, and the use of the pig and the monkey in experimental research.


Head of the Center for Medical Science and Technology Studies.

Head of courses on ”Qualitative methodology” for public health students.

PhD coordinator for graduate students in public health.

Member of the study board for Master of Public Health.

Selected publications

  1. Published

      Between Neutrality and Engagement: A Case Study of Recruitment to Pharmacogenomic Research in Denmark

    Svendsen, M. N. & Koch, L. 2009 In : BioSocieties. 3, 4, p. 399-418 20 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  2. Published

    Unpacking the 'Spare Embryo': Facilitating Stem Cell Research in a Moral Landscape

    Svendsen, M. N. & Koch, L. 2008 In : Social Studies of Science. 38, 1, p. 93-110 18 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  3. Published

    Beyond informed choice: Prenatal risk assessment, decision-making and trust

    Schwennesen, N., Svendsen, M. N. & Koch, L. 2008 In : Etikk i Praksis. 2, 1, p. 11-31

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  4. Published

    In the mood for science: A discussion of emotion management in a pharmacogenomics research encounter in Denmark

    Svendsen, M. N. & Koch, L. 2011 In : Social Science & Medicine. 72, 5, p. 781-788

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

  5. Published

    Articulating potentiality. Notes on the Delineation of the Blank Figure in Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research

    Svendsen, M. N. 2011 In : Cultural Anthropology. 26, 3, p. 414-437 24 p.

    Publication: Research - peer-reviewJournal article

ID: 6564