Daniela Boraschi

University of Essex

Project title:The politics and history of evidence in cervical cancer prevention: a constructivist analysis of the shift towards the HPV paradigm.

My research is about the history and the politics of evidence in cervical cancer prevention. Since the 1960s, women throughout most European nations have been encouraged to attend screening for cervical cancer, which is a relatively simple medical procedure in which a sample of cervical cells is collected, examined through a microscope and classified according to the degree of precancerous changes. This procedure, known as cytology-based screening, has reduced the number of deaths from cancer by detecting and treating cellular changes before they turn to cancer. Despite its success, cytology-based screening is undergoing a process of reorganisation. This has been prompted by the recognition of the causal role of a group of human papillomavirus (HPV) in the development of cervical cancer, which has led to HPV becoming the target of screening and immunological programmes to prevent the disease. The shift from detecting precancerous changes of cervical cells to detecting the presence of the oncogenic HPV virus in the cells has been accompanied by high expectations as well as important concerns among experts in the field. Drawing on the historical evidence-base on HPV and cervical cancer prevention, as well as qualitative interviews, my research examines the logics and practices underlying the reorganisation of cervical cancer services. In so doing my thesis offers a critical explanation of the shift towards the HPV paradigm in cervical cancer prevention.

Supervised by Dr Linsey McGoey and Prof Pete Fussey

About me

I have studied Communication at Camberwell College of Arts and at the Institute of Education. Prior to joining the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex, I worked for a world-leading publisher of science books. Since 2013 I have coordinated the ESRC-funded Spaces of Evidence Network, led by Dr Linsey McGoey.

Research Interests

History of the Global Bioeconomy; Political economies of scientific knowledge; Evidence-based medicine as text-mediated relations;
Ignorance and uncertainty in science and medicine; Causal powers.