Mette Nordahl Svendsen

Mette Nordahl Svendsen


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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 about the value of life. I take a particular interest in how life is understood and administered in the interface between the laboratory, the clinic, and the public. 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 precision/personalized medicine, the use of the pig and the monkey in experimental research, donations of embryos to human embryonic stem cell research, and the use of human subjects in pharmacogenomics research.

I am currently directing the Semper Ardens research project “Personalized Medicine in the Welfare State" (MeInWe) funded by the Carlsberg Foundation. This project explores how strategies of tailoring diagnosis, treatment and prevention to individual genetic variability challenge existing ethical, organizational and regulatory frameworks in medicine.

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Current research

“Personalized Medicine in the Welfare State” (MeInWe), funding from the Carlsberg Foundation (Semper Ardens grant).

“A Life Worth Living: Negotiating Worthiness in Human and Animal” (LifeWorth), funding from the Danish Council for Independent Research (Sapere Aude grant).

”Life at the Margins: Modeling Pigs and Humans in Biomedical Research”, funding from the Danish Council for Independent Research.

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



Head of Section for Health Services Research

Head of MeInWe

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