Collaborative Awards in Humanities and Social Science

Collaborative Awards in Humanities and Social Science: people we've funded

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Professor Gail Davies

University of Exeter

The animal research nexus: changing constitutions of science, health and welfare

  • Dr Beth Greenhough, University of Oxford
  • Dr Pru Hobson-West, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Robert Kirk, University of Manchester
  • Dr Emma Roe, University of Southampton

This five-year collaborative programme will develop approaches for understanding laboratory animal research as a nexus, asking how reconceptualising connections and generating communication across different perspectives can contribute to improving the future of animal research. New research will draw attention to historical independence between science, health and welfare; identify challenges emerging at the interfaces of animal research, and create opportunities to inform policy and public engagement. We suggest collaborative approaches are essential for understanding how rapid transformations across science and society are changing the patterns of responsibility, trust and care which hold together, or constitute, this nexus. 

We will deliver: integrated research across the social sciences and humanities, using historical research to inform understanding of present challenges and create new engagement opportunities for the future; interactive research projects, co-produced with researchers, animal suppliers, veterinarians, the public and patients, to investigate the contemporary dynamics of animal research; interfaces for generating cultures of communication with the public, policy-makers and practitioners across the animal research nexus. 

Professor Sophie Day

Goldsmiths, University of London

‘People like you’: contemporary figures of personalisation    

  • Professor Helen Ward, Imperial College London
  • Professor Celia Lury, University of Warwick

We aim to investigate an emergent culture of personalisation in the UK, and associated concepts of the person and health. We want to understand personalised medicine in relation to other personalising practices. Our figural approach will be applied to case studies of both top-down and open-ended practices of personalisation in medicine, data science and digital culture. We will conduct practice-led research to produce additional insight into the role of personalisation. Our aim is to put the ‘person’ back into personalisation and relate people to the data collected from them and on their behalf. 

This will allow us to investigate individuals’ sense of self, agency and identification with others, and to consider the implications of stratifying people when shaping health outcomes and priorities. We will assess whether personalising practices, considered together, are influencing concepts of the person with consequences for individual and collective health. 

Professor Susan Golombok

University of Cambridge

21st century families: parent-child relationships and children's psychological wellbeing

  • Dr Vasanti Jadva, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Tabitha Freeman, University of Cambridge

New pathways to parenthood have emerged that would not have been imagined at the turn of the 21st century. People can meet prospective co-parents online, transgender people can use medically assisted reproduction to have a baby, single heterosexual men can use surrogates to become single fathers, and women can use identifiable egg donors to have children. The family structures that have emerged from these new pathways raise new ethical, social and psychological concerns, particularly regarding potentially negative consequences for children.

The proposed research will use a multidisciplinary approach to provide empirical evidence on the social and psychological consequences for children of growing up with family arrangements involving non-cohabiting co-parents, transgender parents, elective single fathers and identifiable egg donors.

Our aim is to challenge prejudice and assumption on new family structures with evidence on the consequences for children whether good, bad or neutral. The ultimate goal of the proposed research is to increase understanding of diversity in family life and improve the lives of children in the 21st century.

Dr Kalipso Chalkidou

Imperial College London

Integrating ethics and equity into priority-setting for universal health coverage: a proof-of-concept study in South Africa

  • Dr Carleigh Krubiner, Center for Global Development   
  • Dr Nicola Barsdorf, University of Stellenbosch
  • Professor Karen Hofman, University of Witwatersrand, Priceless SA
  • Professor Ruth Faden, Johns Hopkins University
  • Lord Ara Darzi, Imperial College London

Priority-setting in healthcare is morally complex and involves unavoidable trade-offs. Policy makers face ethical dilemmas when making decisions about healthcare coverage. With many countries pursuing universal health coverage, health technology assessment (HTA) has become a popular approach to decision-making in healthcare. HTA evaluates the value for money of different health interventions while enabling transparent and inclusive decision-making. Although ethics is stated as a core component of HTA, and theoretical HTA ethics frameworks exist, the uptake of ethics analysis in HTA is limited. Few studies have explored practical implementation and the effects of systematic ethics analysis in HTA.

This proof-of-concept study will generate evidence on how a context-specified ethics framework used to set health priorities can be developed, and the influence its application may have on HTA recommendations in South Africa. This has the potential to affect decisions about the extension of national health insurance and longer-term approaches to HTA in South Africa and elsewhere.

We will co-produce an ethics framework to guide NHI decision-making and evaluate how the framework can influence HTA recommendations. Findings will be widely disseminated, presenting the effect on coverage recommendations, resources required to develop and apply the framework, and implementation considerations for systematic ethics analysis in HTA.

Professor Anneke Lucassen

University of Southampton

Facilitating ethical preparedness in genomic medicine

  • Professor Bobbie Farsides, Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Genomic approaches to diagnosis and treatment, such as the 100,000 Genomes Project, have become embedded in healthcare. Research and clinical practice are more co-dependent than in the past and responsibilities of care are changing for individual patients and their current and future relatives.

This research programme will combine empirical bioethical research with conceptual and theoretical analysis to examine the issue of ethical preparedness in genomic medicine which can be used to inform and develop policies for practice. We will focus on the extent to which professionals are prepared for the navigation of ethical issues in the new working environment of clinical genomics. 

We will use a range of research methods across a variety of settings to map the experience of practitioners, patients and participants in genomic medicine, the ethical issues they confront, and the impact on practice when ethics challenge established practice, be that at the stage of recruitment, diagnosis (or lack of), treatment, surveillance, longer-term contact or the need to contact others.

Dr Laura Salisbury

University of Exeter

Waiting times

  • Professor Lisa Baraitser, Birkbeck University of London

This project will investigate waiting as a cultural and psychosocial concept, and an embodied and historical experience, to understand the temporalities of healthcare. It represents a fundamental rethinking of the relation between time and care through a critical analysis of waiting in the modern period. Working across medical humanities and psychosocial studies, we will uncover the history, cultural representation and psychosocial organisation of delayed and impeded time from 1860 to the present. 

This work will underpin focused investigations of ‘watchful waiting’ in current general practice, psychotherapy and end of life care. We will ask which models of time operate in healthcare practices and develop new models where waiting can operate as a form of careful attention. We will open up the meanings and difficulties of waiting and reframe debates about waiting for healthcare, moving beyond waiting times in the NHS, towards a more comprehensive understanding of the relation between waiting, care, and changing experiences of time.


Professor Maureen Kelley

University of Oxford

Resilience, Empowerment and Advocacy in Women’s and Children’s Health Research (REACH)

This project aims to fill the critical gaps in ethics guidance for responsible research with women, children and families in low-income countries. The project is a collaboration between researchers in the UK, Kenya, South Africa and Thailand. It is an interdisciplinary study, involving investigators in bioethics, maternal-child health, infectious disease and social science research. The project aims to advance understanding of: specific vulnerabilities in context; the role of social support in mitigating vulnerability; individuals’ own perceptions of vulnerabilities and abilities.

Professor Martin McKee

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Creating the building blocks for better treatment and control of non-communicable diseases among poor and vulnerable households in Malaysia and the Philippines

This project seeks to explore and overcome the barriers faced by poor and vulnerable patients with hypertension in Malaysia and the Philippines. It will particularly focus on local knowledge of how to clinically manage hypertension. The research team will use a mixed-methods approach, including the use of innovative open-source mobile technology to record patients’ experience.

Dr Gareth Owen

King's College London   

Mental health and justice

The notion of mental capacity has been traditionally employed to determine who has certain legal rights and responsibilities, and who can enter and transact legal relationships, often referred to as ‘legal capacity’. 

This project addresses the central dilemma in mental health, ethics and law: the tension between protecting and respecting a person’s decision-making. The team, with collaborators including clinical experts, lawyers, philosophers, neuroscientists and social scientists, are focusing on two fundamental concepts – support in decision-making and decision-making ability. The aims are to build an outstanding research network in the field of mental health, ethics and law for the next decade, and to provide new solutions to a vexed dilemma facing society, healthcare and law.

Dr John Robb

University of Cambridge

After the plague: health and history in medieval Cambridge

This research aims to build a refined picture of health, lifestyle and activity in medieval England through direct examination of human bodies excavated from the Hospital of St John, Cambridge. Comparing samples from before and after the Black Death, the research team hope to understand the biosocial effects of the plague that decimated Europe in the mid-14th century. The project involves methods from many disciplines, including archaeology, history, osteoarchaeology and DNA analysis.

Dr Lizzie Ward    

University of Brighton        

Ethical issues in self-funded social care: co-producing knowledge with older people

The number of older people funding their own care has increased. This is due to transformations in statutory social care, the impact of austerity, and cuts to social care funding. There is little research on self-funded care, despite its significance to policy and practice. 

Through ‘co-production’ with older people and knowledge exchange with key stakeholders, this study will take an innovative approach to researching self-funding. Involving collaborations between academics, social care commissioners, providers, practitioners and older people in three research sites, it will illuminate ethical dimensions of self-funded care and bring older people’s lived experiences to the fore.


Professor Charles Fernyhough

University of Durham

Hearing the voice 2

Building on an earlier Wellcome Strategic Award, this project explores voice-hearing in the context of seven new research domains. It focuses on: the relationships between voice-hearing and everyday processes of sense perception, memory, language and creativity; why some voices (and not others) are experienced as distressing; how voices can change across the life course; the ways in which voices can act as important social, cultural and political forces.

Work will involve developing a comprehensive online resource for voice-hearers and mental health professionals, and an arts-led programme of public engagement.

Dr Thomas Dixon and the Centre for the History of Emotions

Queen Mary University of London

Living with feeling: emotional health in history, philosophy and experience

This project aims to connect the history and philosophy of medicine and emotions with contemporary science, medical practice, phenomenology and public policy. The project team will investigate: the use of passion as medical treatment; the anatomy of anger as a modern emotionrelationships between religious, philosophical and scientific forms of therapy; time-management and de-cluttering as emotional technologies; the rise of the psychologist parent; the roles of imitation, contagion and mirror neurons in emotional health.

Other grantholders