Richard Milne

head of research and dialogue

Richard Milne

I have always been fascinated by how scientists and members of the public engage with controversial scientific topics. I’m interested in how genomics and data shape and are shaped by their social and cultural context and how we create conversations about the kinds of futures that we want.

Richard is a sociologist of science, technology and medicine. Richard’s interests are in the interface between science and the public, particularly around how scientists and members of the public engage with controversial scientific topics and the possible futures created by new science and technology.  This includes a focus on the social and ethical challenges associated with scientific advance – something that he has explored in relation to biotechnology, ageing and dementia, and latterly genomics, big data and medical applications of artificial intelligence. His research, drawing on qualitative, ethnographic and quantitative approaches, has been published widely in both social science and biomedical journals, reflecting a commitment to engaging with interdisciplinary audiences.

Richard has a long-held commitment to interdisciplinary research and collaboration, exploring how the social sciences can cast light on the complex interconnections of science and social life. He received his PhD in Science and Technology Studies from University College London, where he was based in the interdisciplinary Institute for Human Genetics and Health. This innovative PhD program offered social and natural scientists the opportunity to spend time studying and working in another field. It has formed the basis for Richard’s long-term commitment to developing an interdisciplinary program of work. In subsequent posts at the University of Cambridge, the University of Sheffield and on secondment at the PHG Foundation health policy think tank he conducted qualitative and ethnographic research in neuroscience and sensory science laboratories and led work on ethical, legal and social implications of major European research programs around Alzheimer’s disease.

Within the Engagement and Society group, Richard leads the Research and Dialogue team, and is also deputy director of the Kavli Centre for Ethics, Science and the Public.  He also leads a theme on Ethical, Social and Legal Implications within Cambridge Public Health  and holds advisory roles on UK and international projects including Our Future Health, Genomics England Newborn Screening pilot, and the European Health Data and Evidence Network (EHDEN).

Selected Recent Publications

(for full list see ORCID)

Milne R, Morley KI, Almarri MA, et al. Return of genomic results does not motivate intent to participate in research for all: Perspectives across 22 countries. Genetics in Medicine. Published online February 3, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.gim.2022.01.002

Milne R, Costa A, Brenman N. Digital phenotyping and the (data) shadow of Alzheimer’s disease. Big Data & Society. 2022;9(1):20539517211070748. doi:10.1177/20539517211070748

Milne R, Morley KI, Almarri MA, et al. Demonstrating trustworthiness when collecting and sharing genomic data: public views across 22 countries. Genome Med. 2021;13(1):92. doi:10.1186/s13073-021-00903-0

Milne R, Sorbie A, Dixon-Woods M. What can data trusts for health research learn from participatory governance in biobanks? Journal of Medical Ethics. Published online March 19, 2021. doi:10.1136/medethics-2020-107020

Brenman NF, Milne R. “Ready for What?”: Timing and Speculation in Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Development. Science, Technology, & Human Values. Published online April 22, 2021:01622439211007196. doi:10.1177/01622439211007196

Milne R. Societal considerations in host genome testing for COVID-19. Genetics in Medicine. Published online June 8, 2020:1-3. doi:10.1038/s41436-020-0861-y

Middleton A, Milne R, et al. (2020) Global Public Perceptions of Genomic Data Sharing: What Shapes the Willingness to Donate DNA and Health Data?. The American Journal of Human Genetics

Milne R (2020) “The Rare and the Common: Scale and the Genetic Imaginary in Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Development.” New Genetics and Society 39 (1): 101–26

Milne R et al. (2019) “Trust in Genomic Data Sharing among Members of the General Public in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia,” Human Genetics