Lara Marks

Lara Marks


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Biographical details

Lara Marks is a trained historian of medicine, who has a long history of collaboration on projects and teaching across different disciplines. Within SSHM she is a member of the Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals and Public Policy Research group. She brings to the department a long record not only of academic work, but also strong links with biopharmaceutical executives and regulators who she has worked with through consultancy projects analysing alliances between pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Over the past few years Lara Marks has published numerous articles and books on a range of subjects, including ethnicity and healthcare, the social determinants of maternal and infant health, and the history of pharmaceutical discovery, development and regulation. Internationally, she is most well known for her book Sexual Chemistry: A history of the contraceptive pill. The book was published by Yale University Press as a hardback in 2001, and then as a revised paperback edition in 2010. Receiving favourable reviews in both the public press and academic circles, in 2003 the book was awarded 'Outstanding title' by University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries. For reviews of the book see

Currently, Lara Marks is researching biotechnology and the impact this has had for healthcare since the 1970s. As part of this she is completing a book, under contract with Yale University Press, called '”The Lock and Key” of Medicine: Monoclonal antibodies and their transformation of healthcare'. A central theme of this book is how monoclonal antibodies have become intrinsic to today's medical care, both in terms of diagnostics and therapeutics and how they have helped shape understandings of the causes of disease as well as treatments adopted since the 1970s. On the diagnostics front, the book considers the impact of the technology on the speed, accuracy and automation of tests, as well as its implications for mass screening. The book also explores how monoclonal antibody drugs have become one of the fastest growing sectors in the biopharmaceutical industry, examining the questions they pose for regulators in terms of benefits and risks, and for policy makers in terms of costs, as well as the implications they hold for patient care in terms of quality of life and personalised medicine. All these questions are explored alongside considerations of how monoclonal antibodies have travelled from the bench side through to the clinic and how this was influenced by wider questions of finance, patents and governmental policy.

In addition to her book for Yale University Press, Lara Marks is deeveloping a website called  'What is Biotechnology' with the objective of providing a comprehensive educational resource outlining what biotechnology is and what impact it has on our everyday lives in terms of healthcare. This was launched on February 14th 2013 with some financial backing from the Medical Research Council. Many of the themes within the website dovetail with the SSHM's research and teaching objectives as well as King's College's strategy for the public dissemination of science. The aim of the website is to gather together the stories of the scientists involved in the development and application of biotechnology in healthcare as well as those who were responsible for its commercialisation, funding, approval, and regulation. This is being provided alongside the stories of individuals whose lives have been touched by biotechnology, such as patients who have used different forms of diagnostics and therapeutics developed through biotechnology. Overall the aim is to provide insight into the complex processes involved in the application of biotechnology in healthcare as well as the benefits and risks it poses.

Research interests (short)

The rise of biotechnology and its impact on healthcare, particularly diagnostics and therapeutics.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities


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