About the Centre
The Jacques Loeb Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel, supports advanced research on a variety of topics related to the life sciences and serves as an interdisciplinary forum for scientists, historians and philosophers of science.
The Centre bases its activities on the idea that one cannot fully comprehend science without also taking a historical and philosophical perspective, with history providing details of scientific developments and philosophy leading to a deeper understanding of scientific progress and pitfalls. Integrating the history and philosophy of science and establishing a connection between the sciences and humanities - ideas prominently promoted by the founder of the history of science George Sarton - are central to the Centre's work.
The Centre is named after German-American physiologist Jacques Loeb (1859-1924), legendary experimentalist and seminal thinker in the history of biology. His passionate promotion of biology as an exact experimental science, his “mechanistic” outlook on research and his opposition to the vitalistic concepts prevalent around 1900 impacted greatly on the development of the life sciences. He had a strong influence on the work of Otto Warburg, Thomas Hunt Morgan, Hermann Muller, Herbert S. Jennings, and several others. Loeb's interest in philosophical and political issues brought him into contact with major figures in science, philosophy, and history, including Svante Arrhenius, Albert Einstein, Ernst Mach, Leonor Michaelis, Wilhelm Ostwald and George Sarton.
The Centre investigates a wide range of topics, which include, but are not restricted to:
The history of ideas and practices in modern biology, particularly molecular biology of complex systems, genomics and molecular systems biology, microbiology, cell biology, developmental biology and synthetic biology.
The causal analysis of scientific change and scientific progress, in which theories of scientific advance are confronted with notions of scientific development.
The nature of the connections between bio-scientists and industry.
International collaborations and their importance in modern life sciences.
The long-term impact of the Nazi era on science and international relations.
Ethical implications of modern genomic research.
The role of private and public funding and their impact on research.
The mutual impact of politics and science both historically and today.
The Centre was founded in 2007 and has been directed since then by Ute Deichmann.
Ori Freiman is the research assistant and coordinator of the Centre’s seminar series.
Jodie Quinn is the English language editor and coordinator of the Centre's workshops.