Picture of Professor Paul MartinProfessor Paul Martin

Professor of Sociology

(BA (Hons), MSc, DPhil)


Telephone: 0114 222 6414 (external), 26414 (internal)
Room: Elmfield, G34


Paul works at the interface of science and technology studies (STS) and medical sociology. He joined the Department in March 2012 to take up the position of Chair in the Sociology of Science and Technology, and Director of Research. He was Head of Department from April 2014-December 2016.

He has a first training in biology with a BA Zoology from the University of Cambridge. He won an MRC PhD studentship to undertake biomedical research at the Mammalian Development Unit at University College London, but his scientific career ended after he suffered a very serious head injury in a road traffic accident. Paul then worked for a number of years in the voluntary sector as a campaigner and policy analyst for the group Health Rights.

He returned to academia after taking an MSc in Sociology (social policy) at Southbank University and completed a DPhil part-time at SPRU at the University of Sussex. His PhD thesis was a historical sociology of the development of gene therapy in the USA. Paul worked at SPRU as a Research Fellow on a series of EU projects related to innovation in the bio/pharmaceutical industry, science policy and the regulation of emerging medical technologies

In 1999 he moved to the University of Nottingham and helped establish the Institute for Science and Society (ISS) as one of Europe’s leading centres in STS with a strong commitment to supporting the career development of postgraduate students and early career researchers. He was Director of ISS from 2009-2012 until he moved to Sheffield.


Paul has a strong track record of high quality empirical research, as well as research leadership and project management. Over the course of his career he has raised over £2.6M of external funding as Principal Investigator and held seven major awards (worth > £100k) from the ESRC, Wellcome Trust, Leverhulme Trust, and European Union. He has published ~ 50 peer reviewed articles in leading national and international journals.

Currently Paul’s research interests are:

  • The development of epigenetics and the role of science in (social) policy;
  • Novel biosocial concepts and methods in the social sciences;
  • What is means to be human in the 21st Century;
  • The clinical and commercial development of genomics and personalised medicine;
  • Responsible Research and Innovation.

Paul is currently Principal Investigator on a Leverhulme Trust funded grant How Does Inequality get ‘Under the Skin’? Epigenetics, health disparities and the making of social policy (2014-18; £215,000). This is studying the development of the emerging science of epigenetics as a means of better understanding the link between deprivation and inequalities in health, and how this new knowledge is being used to inform public policy. The project has a strong focus on providing a sociological understanding of how this new multidisciplinary field is being constructed and the role of epigenetics in providing accounts of the biological embodiment of social and environmental experience.

His work on epigenetics is part of a broader exploration of the changing relationship between biology and society, and the rise of new ‘biosocial’ approaches to understanding questions of health, behaviour and social interaction. In particular, Paul is interested in how ideas of society and ‘the social’ are used in the biological sciences and how novel biosocial methods might be applied to social science research. In future, he is looking to extend this strand of work to critically investigate how new biological knowledge is changing how we understand what is means to be human.

To help achieve this, Paul is working closely with Dan Goodley and Kirsty Liddiard (Education) and Warren Pearce and Stevie deSaille (Sociological Studies) to establish a major new multidisciplinary Institute for the Study of the Human (iHuman) iHuman draws on expertise from across the social sciences, humanities and STEM disciplines, and brings together academics, community groups and third sector organisations. It promotes risky conversations between and across disciplines and does this primarily through a number of externally funded research projects.

Another strand of ongoing research concerns the clinical and commercial development of emerging biotechnologies. This builds on his previous research on genomic medicine, pharmacogenetics, regenerative medicine, synthetic biology and gene therapy. Paul is currently undertaking preliminary research and preparing funding applications on the development of gene editing technology (with Ilke Turmendag, Newcastle). He has contributed to policy debates in this area and has been invited to an OECD Expert Meeting on Gene Editing in Berlin in July 2017.

Before leaving Nottingham Paul was awarded a £1.7M Leverhulme Trust programme grant on Making Science Public: Opportunities and Challenges. He was initially PI on this major five-year grant, but this role was taken over by Brigitte Nerlich in December 2011, who successfully delivered an outstanding programme of research. As part of this, Paul recently completed a project (with Stevie deSaille) on policymakers and activist concepts of responsible research and innovation (RRI). He currently chairs the University of Sheffield working group on RRI.


Paul convenes:

  • SCS1017 Science, Technology and Society
  • SCS3034 What it means to be Human

Postgraduate supervision

To find out more about our PhD programmes, go to:
Studying for a PhD in Sociology


Publications since 2005

Weiner, K., Martin, P., Richards, M. & Tutton, R. (2017) Have we seen the geneticization of society? Expectations and evidence. Sociology of Health and Illness. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.12551

Meloni, M., Williams, S., & Martin, P. (2016). The biosocial: sociological themes and issues. The Sociological Review Mongraphs, 64(1), 7-25. doi:10.1002/2059-7932.12010

Balmer, A. S., Calvert, J., Marris, C., Molyneux-Hodgson, S., Frow, E., Kearnes, M., Bulpin, K., Schyfter, P., MacKenzie, A. and Martin, P. (2016). Five Rules of Thumb for Post-ELSI Interdisciplinary Collaborations. Journal of Responsible Innovation, 3(1), 73-80. doi:10.1080/23299460.2016.1177867

Lo, C., Martindale, J., Hadjivassiliou, M., Gabe, J., Williams, S., Martin, P., & Coveney, C. (2015). Pharmaceuticals and society: Power, promises and prospects. Social Science and Medicine, 131, 193-198. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.02.031

Pickersgill, M., Martin, P., & Cunningham-Burley, S. (2015). The changing brain: Neuroscience and the enduring import of everyday experience. Public Understanding of Science, 24(7), 878-892. doi:10.1177/0963662514521550

Martin, P. (2015). Commercialising neurofutures: Promissory economies, value creation and the making of a new industry. BioSocieties, 10(4), 422-443. doi:10.1057/biosoc.2014.40

Balmer, A.S., Calvert, J., Marris, C., Molyneux-Hodgson, S., Frow, E., Kearnes, M., Bulpin, K., Schyfter, P., MacKenzie, A. and Martin P. (2015). Taking roles in interdisciplinary collaborations: Reflections on working in post-ELSI spaces in the UK synthetic biology community. Science and Technology Studies, 28(3), 3-25.

Martin, P., Dalton, A., & Bandmann, O. (2014). The documentation of consent and disclosure of neurogenetic testing outside clinical genetics. Neurogenetics, 15(1), 19-21. doi:10.1007/s10048-014-0391-3

Pickersgill, M., Niewöhner, J., Müller, R., Martin, P., & Cunningham-Burley, S. (2013). Mapping the new molecular landscape: Social dimensions of epigenetics. New Genetics and Society, 32(4), 429-447. doi:10.1080/14636778.2013.861739

Moffatt, F., Timmons, S., & Martin, P. (2013). Constructing notions of healthcare productivity: The call for a new professionalism?. Sociology of Health and Illness. doi:10.1111/1467-9566.12093

Smart A, Tutton R, Martin P, Ellison GTH (2012) 'Race' as a social construction in genetics,  in Identity Politics and the New Genetics: Re/Creating Categories of Difference and Belonging,  Berghahn, 30-52.

Pickersgill, M.D., Martin, P.A. and Cunningham-Burley, S. (2011) ‘Constituting Neurologic Subjects: Neuroscience, Subjectivity, and the Mundane Significance of the Brain’, Subjectivity, 4(3):346-365. doi: 10.1057/sub.2011.10

Williams SJ, Martin P, Gabe J. (2011) 'Evolving sociological analyses of 'Pharmaceuticalisation': A reply to Abraham', Sociology of Health and Illness 33(5):729-730. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2011.01396.x

Williams, S. J., Martin, P. and Gabe, J. (2011), The pharmaceuticalisation of society? A framework for analysis. Sociology of Health and Illness, 3(5):710-725: doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2011.01320.x

Williams, S.J., Katz, S. and Martin P. (2011) Neuroscience and Medicalisation: Sociological Reflections on Memory, Medicine and the Brain, in Martyn Pickersgill and Ira Van Keulen (eds) Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences (Advances in Medical Sociology, Volume 13) Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 231 - 254.

Plagnol, A.C., Rowley, E., Martin, P. and Livesey, F. (2009) Industry perceptions of barriers to commercialization of regenerative medicine products in the UK. Regenerative Medicine 4(4):549-559 [Cit: 4]. doi:10.2217/rme.09.21

Calvert, J. And Martin, P. (2009) The role of social science in synthetic biology. EMBO Reports, 10(3):201-204. [Cit: 10]. doi:10.1038/embor.2009.15

England, T.J, Martin, P., and Bath, P.M.W. (2009) Stem cells for enhancing recovery after stroke: a review. International Journal of Stroke 4:101-110 [Cit: 9]. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-4949.2009.00253.x

Coveney, C.M., Nerlich, B., and Martin, P.A. (2009) Modafinil in the media: metaphors, medicalisation and the body. Social Science and Medicine. 68(3):487-95 [Cit: 8]. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.11.016

Williams, S. and Martin, P.A. (2009) Drug induced cognitive enhancement and society. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 3(1)

Martin, P.A.,  and Balmer, A.  (2008) Synthetic Biology: Social and Ethical Challenges. September 2008. Available from http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/organisation/policies/reviews/scientific-areas/0806-synthetic-biology.aspx

Tutton R, Smart A, Martin P.A., Ashcroft R, Ellison GTH. (2008) Genotyping the future: scientists' expectations about race/ethnicity after BiDil®. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 36 (3) 464-470 [Cit: 8]. doi:10.1111/j.1748-720X.2008.292.x

Martin, P., Brown, N., and Turner, A. (2008) Capitalising hope: the commercial development of umbilical cord blood stem cell banking. New Genetics and Society. 27(2): 127-143 [Cit: 4]. doi: 10.1080/14636770802077074

Weiner, K. and Martin, P.A. (2008) A genetic future for coronary heart disease. Sociology of Health and Illness. 30 (3): 380-395. [Cit: 10]. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2007.01058.x

Ellison GTH, Tutton R, Outram SM, Martin P., Ashcroft R, Smart A. (2008) An interdisciplinary perspective on the impact of genomics on the meaning of 'race', and the future role of racial categories in biomedical research. NTM Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine 16: 378-386. [Cit: 1]. doi: 10.1007/s00048-008-0301-6

Ellison, G.T.H., Kaufman, J.S., Head, R.F., Martin, P.A. and Kahn, J.D. (2008) Flaws in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Rationale for Supporting the Development and Approval of BiDil as a Treatment for Heart Failure Only in Black Patients. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics. 36(3): 449-457 [Cit: 7]. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-720X.2008.290.x

Smart, A., Tutton, R., Ashcroft, R., Martin, P.A., Balmer, A., Elliot, R. and G.T.H. Ellison (2008) Social Inclusivity vs. Analytical Acuity? A Qualitative Study of UK Researchers Regarding the Inclusion of Minority Racial/Ethnic Groups in Biobanks. Medical Law International, 9(2): 169-190 [Cit: 2]. doi: 10.1177/096853320800900205

Martin, P.A., Brown, N and Kraft, A. (2008) From bedside to bench? Communities of Promise, Translational Research and the Making of Blood Stem Cells. Science as Culture. 17(1):29-42. [Cit: 10]. doi: 10.1080/09505430701872921

Smart, A., Tutton, R., Martin, P.A., Ellison, G. T. H. and Ashcroft, R. (2008) The Standardisation of Race and Ethnicity in Biomedical Science Editorial and UK Biobanks. Social Studies of Science. 38(3): 407-423 [Cit: 15]. doi: 10.1177/0306312707083759

Ellison, G.T.H., Smart, A., Tutton, R., Outram, S.M., Ashcroft, R. and Martin, P. (2007) Racial categories in medicine: a failure of evidence-based practice? PLoS 4(9): 1434-1436 [Cit: 21]

Hopkins, MH., Martin, PA., Nightingale, P., Kraft, A. and Mahdi, S. (2007) The Myth of the Biotech Revolution: An assessment of technological, clinical and organisational change. Research Policy 36(4): 566-589 [Cit: 67]. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2007.02.013

Hopkins, M.M. and Martin, P.A. (2006) Role of pharmacogenetics in the use of CNS drugs: from drug pipeline to primary care? (editorial). Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics 6(12):1765-1767 [Cit: 1]. doi: 10.1586/14737175.6.12.1765

Martin, PA., Coveny, C., Kraft, A., Brown, N and Bath, P (2006) The commercial development of stem cell technology: lessons from the past, strategies for the future. Regenerative Medicine 1(6): 801-807 [Cit: 11]. doi: 10.2217/17460751.1.6.801

Smart, A.; Tutton, R., Ashcroft, R., Martin, P.A. and Ellison, G.T.H. (2006) Can Science Alone Improve the Measurement and Communication of Race and Ethnicity in Genetic Research? Exploring the Strategies Proposed by Nature Genetics. BioSocieties 1(3):313-324 [Cit: 11]. doi:10.1017/S1745855206003036

Brown, N., Kraft, A. and Martin. P. (2006) The Promissory Pasts of Blood Stem Cells. BioSocieties. 1(3):329-348 [Cit: 7]. doi: 10.1017/S1745855206003061

Hopkins, MM., Ibarreta, D., Gaisser, S., Enzing, CM., Ryan, J., Martin, PA., Lewis, G., Detmar, S., van den Akker-van Marle, ME., Hedgecoe, AM., Nightingale, P., Dreiling, M., Hartig, KJ., Vullings, W. and Forde, T. (2006) Putting pharmacogenetics into practice. Nature Biotechnology 24 (April): 403-410 [Cit: 52]. doi: 10.1038/nbt0406-403

Smart, A. and Martin, P.A. (2006) The promise of pharmacogenetics: Assessing the prospects for disease and patient stratification. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 37(3):583-601 [Cit: 6]. doi: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2006.06.002

Busby, H. and Martin, P.A. (2006) Biobanks, national identity and imagined genetic communities: the case of UK biobank. Science as Culture. 15(3):237-251. [Cit: 16]. doi: 10.1080/09505430600890693

Martin, P (2005) The paradox of race/ ethnicity (response to Ellison). Critical Public Health. 15(1): 77-78 [Cit: 3] doi: 10.1080/09581590500048481

A full list of publications can be downloaded by clicking the link on the right of this page.