Alberto Cambrosio


alberto.cambrosio [at] | 514 398-4981 | 3647 Peel, room 202

Initially trained as a biologist in Switzerland, I completed a Ph.D. in History and Socio-Politics of Science at the University of Montreal, and a post-doc at MIT’s Science, Technology & Society Program. A member of McGill’s Department of Social Studies of Medicine since 1990, I chaired the department from 2005 to 2016. I have been an invited researcher/visiting professor at several foreign institutions, including the University of Edinburgh, Sciences Po (Paris), Mines Paris-Tech, the Max-Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin), and the University of Cardiff. My research has been supported by major Canadian (CIHR, SSHRC, FRQSC, Genome Quebec) and foreign (French Cancer Research Institute) agencies.

Research Interests:

Biomedical science & technology studies. In particular:

  • Biomedical innovation at the clinical, laboratory, biotechnology, and pharmaceutical industry interfaces.
  • ‘Genomics in action’: analysis of concrete instances of bio-clinical work, via the investigation of public, academic, and commercial programs that capitalize on the therapeutic insights offered by the new molecular genetics of cancer.
  • Oncology’s ‘metaknowledge’ networks: deployment of new computational tools to trace research teams and collaboration networks, investigative and clinical technologies, the myriad recombinant elements under investigation, and the changing landscape of institutions that hosts them.

Selected Publications:


Peter Keating and Alberto Cambrosio, Cancer on Trial: Oncology as a New Style of Practice. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012; xviii, 456 p. Paperback edition: 2014.

Peter Keating and Alberto Cambrosio, Biomedical Platforms. Realigning the Normal and the Pathological in Late-Twentieth-Century Medicine. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003; xiv, 544 p. Paperback edition: 2006.

Recent articles

Jonah Campbell, Alberto Cambrosio, Mark Basik, “Histology Agnosticism: Infra-Molecularizing Disease?” in press in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (2024).

Alberto Cambrosio, Jonah Campbell, Alexander Drilon, Peter Keating, Jess B. Polk, “Decision-Making as Discovery: Vetting Clinical Research in a Leading Precision Oncology Service.” Sociology of Health & Illness (2023), doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.13719.

Jessica B. Polk, Jonah Campbell, Alexander Drilon, Peter Keating, Alberto Cambrosio, “Organizing Precision Medicine: A Case Study of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Engagement In/With Genomics.” Social Science & Medicine, 324 (2023), 115789.

Alberto Cambrosio, Jonah Campbell, Peter Keating, and Pascale Bourret, “Multi-Polar Scripts: Techno-regulatory Environments and the Rise of Precision Oncology Diagnostic Tests.” Social Science & Medicine, 304 (2022), 112317.

Alexandre Hannud Abdo, Jean-Philippe Cointet, Pascale Bourret, and Alberto Cambrosio, “Domain-Topic Models with Chained Dimensions: Charting an Emergent Domain of a Major Oncology Conference (1995-2017).” JASIST: Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 73 (2022), 992-1011.

Alberto Cambrosio, Jonah Campbell, Peter Keating, Jessica B. Polk, Adriana Aguilar-Mahecha, and Mark Basik, “Healthcare Policy by Other Means: Cancer Clinical Research as ‘Oncopolicy’.” Social Science & Medicine, 292 (2022), 114576.

Alberto Cambrosio, Jonah Campbell, and Pascale Bourret, “Beyond Nosology? Molecular Tumor Boards, Singularization, and the Conflation of Diagnosis and Therapy.” New Genetics and Society, 40(1) (2021) 95-111.

Pascale Bourret and Alberto Cambrosio, “Genomic Expertise in Action: Molecular Tumour Boards and Decision-Making in Precision Oncology.” Sociology of Health & Illness, (2019), 41(8) (2019), 1568-1584.

Courses Given:

SOCI 515/HSSM 610: Medicine and Society/The Sociology of Medicine

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