I developed an interest in the ethical questions raised by medicine and the biological sciences during my undergraduate degree at the University of Liverpool. I came to Manchester in 2000, to take an MA in the History and Social Anthropology of Science, Technology and Medicine. My MA dissertation, on informed consent and large-scale 'biobanks', prompted my interest in the longer history of public attitudes to research on human tissues. After successfully applying to the Wellcome Trust, and now based fully at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine (CHSTM), I began my PhD in 2002. I completed the PhD in 2005 and it has resulted in several articles and my 2011 book Tissue Culture in Science and Society: The Public Life of Biological Technique in Twentieth Century Britain.
During my PhD research, I noticed that philosophers and lawyers entered debates from the 1970s onwards and decided to make this outside involvement, or 'bioethics', the subject of my next research project. After a couple of years spent teaching at CHSTM and writing a book on Reconfiguring Biological Sciences, I started my Wellcome fellowship on the history of bioethics in 2007. This work was written up in several articles and my 2014 book on The Making of British Bioethics.
In January 2016 I began a Wellcome Trust University Award project on 'Species Loss and the Ecology of Human-Animal Health', investigating how growing awareness of links between rapid species extinction and human health fostered new ways of viewing, valuing and intervening in the natural world, with profound consequences for ethical debates about why some endangered species matter more than others.