Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard

Harvard Kennedy School of Government | Harvard University
Thomas Bertorelli

Thomas Bertorelli

thomas_bertorelli (at)

Thomas Bertorelli is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Program on Science, Technology & Society (STS) at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a PhD student in Sociology at Brandeis University. Thomas’ developing research interests focus on the globalization of the clinical trials industry. He is designing a research project in order to better understand how connections between political, economic, and pharmaceutical interests shape the development and practice of transnational health research. 

Thomas’ current research is based on observations of behavioral neuroscience researchers who use rats to better understand sense perception. Drawing on ethnographic methods, this project explores how these scientists, who seek to integrate more biologically-based research approaches into their work, manage the tension of deriving their authority from the behavioral approaches they are attempting to transform. This research has raised questions regarding not only the maintenance of objectivity in bench science but also the relationship between research and population health.

Thomas received his M.A. in Social Science from the University of Chicago (2012). His master’s research focused on the hope and doubt that comprise psychiatrists’ discourse of ambivalence as it relates to the potential use of neuroimaging technologies in clinical practice. An article developed from this research (Health, forthcoming) suggests that the perceived uses and meanings of neuroimaging technologies are rearticulated in ongoing debates in the field of psychiatry regarding the role of the biopsychiatric model in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.



Bertorelli, Thomas Eugene. “Hope and Doubt in the Promise of Neuroimaging: The Case of Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness, and Medicine. Forthcoming, 2016.

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