Biomarkers and their consequences for the biomedical profession: a social science perspective

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

21 Citations (Scopus)


Although biomarkers are not altogether new, they are gaining a new life in our postgenomic present. This article takes this as a good reason to explore biomarkers in depth and to speculate about the consequences that biomarkers might engender in clinical practices. First, the article ventures into an endeavor of ordering the dynamic field of biomarkers, suggesting a possible classification of biomarkers, and then argues that we are currently witnessing a 'biomarkerization' of health and disease - defined as an ongoing future-oriented process that seeks to solve biomedical as well as public health problems through investments into biomarker research at the present time. Subsequently, this article reflects on some possible consequences of this phenomenon. It argues that while the movement of candidate biomarkers into the clinic is arduous, biomarkers might develop a life of their own once they arrive in the clinic. This article outlines the direction of two such possible consequences. It suggests that biomarkers might be involved in a change of the actors that order and categorize diseases, as well as trigger transformations in our understanding of what counts as disease in the first place. Hence, this article seeks to shed light on the paradox that while biomarkers are designed to add more evidence into clinical practice, they might actually increase uncertainty and ambiguity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-420
Number of pages14
JournalPersonalized Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers
  • Biomedical profession
  • Boundaries
  • Categories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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