Adjusting to precarity: How and why the Roslin Institute forged a leading role for itself in international networks of pig genomics research

James W. E. Lowe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

From the 1980s onwards, the Roslin Institute and its predecessor organisations faced budget cuts, organisational upheaval, and considerable insecurity. Over the next few decades, it was transformed by the introduction of molecular biology and transgenic research, but remained, however, a hub of animal geneticists conducting research aimed at the livestock breeding industry. This paper explores how these animal geneticists embraced genomics in response to the many-faceted precarity that the Roslin Institute faced, establishing it as a global centre for pig genomics research through forging and leading the Pig Gene Mapping Project (PiGMaP); developing and hosting resources, such as a database for genetic linkage data; and producing associated statistical and software tools to analyse the data. The Roslin Institute leveraged these resources to play a key role in further international collaborations as a hedge against precarity. This adoption of genomics was strategically useful, as it took advantage of policy shifts at the national and European levels towards funding research with biotechnological potential. As genomics constitutes a set of infrastructures and resources with manifold uses, the development of capabilities in this domain also helped Roslin to diversify as a response to precarity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal for the History of Science
Early online date12 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Roslin Institute
  • genomics
  • history of biology
  • institutional history
  • Thatcherism

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