Big Tissue and Society


  • Dr Neil Stephens

    Brunel University London

Project summary

‘Big Tissue’ marks a new era of biological innovation based on industrial production of engineered body tissue.

This project analyses four case studies of significant increases in human and animal tissue production: cultured blood, cultured skin, cultured meat and biofabricated animal tissue. Collectively these case studies illuminate the complicated and contradictory ways Big Tissue will transform our sense of what we can do with the body. Qualitative methods, including interviews, observations and documentary analysis, will inform a perspective based on sociology, and science and technology studies.
The research will assess current practice and identify areas of human and animal health that require further research around this topic. I will analyse the current ontological, ethical, commercial and material context of Big Tissue through empirical analysis of the case studies. I will articulate the novel relationships invoked by Big Tissue and how the social science agenda must respond.

Along with mainstream academic outputs, I intend to contribute to policy at governmental and third sector level. Key analytical themes will include: commercialisation and value; human-animal relations; sensory, ontological and ethical status of each case and the broader issues of Big Tissue.