Andrew F. Holmes Dean of Medicine Lectures

The Andrew F. Holmes Dean of Medicine Distinction Lectures (Holmes Lectures) is a program based on the original Foundations of Medical Science Series. The Holmes Lectures attracts outstanding leaders in research, education and health care from around the globe. Up to two lectures are held yearly.

These lectures, together with associated events scheduled around the visiting speaker, function as fora for the exchange of ideas, bringing together individuals from a cross-section of disciplines and backgrounds.

2016 Lecture

Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 6:00 PM

Redpath Museum Auditorium 

Watch the lecture live here:


Nikolas Rose

Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Social Science, Health & Medicine, King’s College, University of London

Nikolas Rose is Professor of Sociology and Head of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Kings College London.  Before joining King’s in 2012, he was Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Head of the Department of Sociology from 2002 to 2006, and Director of the LSE's BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society, which he founded in 2003.   He was trained as a biologist before switching to psychology and then to sociology. He is founder and co-editor of BioSocieties: an interdisciplinary journal for social studies of the life sciences. has published widely on the social and political history of the human sciences, on the genealogy of subjectivity, on the history of empirical thought in sociology, on law and criminology, and on changing rationalities and techniques of political power. His most recent books include books The Politics of Life Itself : Biomedicine, Power, and Subjectivity in the Twenty-First Century (2006) Governing The Present (written with Peter Miller, 2008) and Neuro: The New Brain Sciences and the Management of the Mind (written with Joelle Abi-Rached, 2013). He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Society and Ethics Division of the Human Brain Project, a European FET Flagship Project, and is responsible for their Foresight Laboratory.  He is the lead investigator from Kings in several large EPSRC funded collaborations with Imperial College, London to develop research and capacity in synthetic biology, and is currently engaged in comparative research on mental health and migration in megacities such as Shanghai.  For six years he was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics.  He was lead partner in BIONET, a 21 partner consortium, funded by the European Commission, examining the ethical governance of research in the life sciences in China and Europe. He is Chair of the Neuroscience and Society Network (previously funded by the European Science Foundation) and has worked in various capacities with the Academy of Medical Science and the Wellcome Trust, and with the Royal Society, where he is currently a member of the Science Policy Committee.


Brain, Self and Society in the Twenty First Century

What kinds of creatures do we, modern human beings, take ourselves to be? In this talk, drawing on my research on the history and sociology of the neurosciences,  I will argue that the current focus of scientific, medical and popular attention on the human brain amounts to a shift in our ‘relation to ourselves’ - that is to say,  the way we conceive of ourselves as subjects of what we are doing, thinking and saying.  I argue that those from the social and human sciences need to attend to and engage with this shift in our understanding of ourselves and its consequences, but that our relation to these developments should be one of ‘critical friendship’.  I illustrate my argument with a critical analysis of five areas where such critical friendship is required: the idea that disorders from anxiety to addiction are ‘brain disorders’; the claims made by the ‘big brain projects’ such as the Human Brain Project and the US Brain Project; the global rise in the use of psychiatric drugs; the search for ‘biomarkers’ for the diagnosis and treatment of mental distress; the ‘translational imperative, and the problems of moving findings from the laboratory to everyday life.  I conclude with a discussion of contemporary transformations in conceptions of personhood and their implications.



Stay Connected

Back to top