Julia Swallow

DR

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Personal profile

Biography

Following undergraduate (2007 – 2010) degree in Sociology at the University of Liverpool and masters (2011 – 2012) degree in Social Research at the University of York, I undertook an ESRC funded PhD in the School of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Leeds (2012 – 2015). This PhD was a sociological investigation exploring the role of technologies for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease (AD) in memory clinics, within the context of a growing ageing population. Following a four-year position as Research Fellow working on Professor Anne Kerr (Leeds) and Professor Sarah-Cunningham Burley’s (Edinburgh) Wellcome Trust funded project, “Translations and transformations in patienthood: cancer in the post-genomics era”, I was awarded a Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science by the Wellcome Trust (2020 – 2023).

Research Interests

My research engages with Science and Technology Studies (STS) and medical sociology to explore the intersections between technologies, disease, health and illness.

Current Research

In February 2020, I commenced a three-year Research Fellowship in Humanities and Social Science, funded by the Wellcome Trust, entitled ‘Harnessing the little white cells’: Tracing practices of immunity in cancer.

Over the last five years, immunotherapy treatments have emerged in clinical practice and are also currently being tested as part of experimental clinical trials to treat patients with some forms of cancer. These treatments utilise the patient's own body to treat cancer and the scientific and clinical hope attached to these novel therapies is that they have the potential to extend survival time for patients. There are however, clinical concerns regarding long-term treatment side-effects and toxicities, predicting response and prognosis, and management of patients’ hopes and expectations.

This project involves fieldwork across two sites where treatments are implemented in order to understand how immunotherapy is shifting how cancer is approached, managed and experienced. It considers the way in which immunotherapy treatments impact how cancer is managed in clinical practice as part of patient care as well as exploring what these developments mean for patients who are living with cancer. This project will extend existing debates concerning the societal implications of biomedical developments in oncology with a particular focus on the unfolding practices and everyday experiences of immunotherapy treatments.

Other Responsibilities/Activities

I am a member of the British Sociological Association, the UK Association for Studies in Innovation, Science and Technology (AsSIST-UK) and I co-convene the British Sociological Association's STS Study Group. I have received funding for events including a British Sociological Association Postgraduate Forum Regional Event and a Foundation of the Sociology of Health and Illness symposium. I was also awarded a Wellcome Trust Secondment Fellowship with the Science Museum (2019) to develop the narrative and content for a temporary exhibition on cancer 2021.

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Leeds

Bachelor of Arts, University of Liverpool

Master of Arts, University of York

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