The Market in Mind

The Market in Mind

How Financialization Is Shaping Neuroscience, Translational Medicine, and Innovation in Biotechnology

By Mark Dennis Robinson

A critical examination of translational medicine, when private risk is transferred to the public sector and university research teams become tech startups for global investors.





A critical examination of translational medicine, when private risk is transferred to the public sector and university research teams become tech startups for global investors.

A global shift has secretly transformed science and medicine. Starting in 2003, biomedical research in the West has been reshaped by the emergence of translational science and medicine—the idea that the aim of research is to translate findings as quickly as possible into medical products. In The Market in Mind, Mark Dennis Robinson charts this shift, arguing that the new research paradigm has turned university research teams into small biotechnology startups and their industry partners into early-stage investment firms. There is also a larger, surprising consequence from this shift: according to Robinson, translational science and medicine enable biopharmaceutical firms, as part of a broader financial strategy, to outsource the riskiest parts of research to nonprofit universities. Robinson examines the implications of this new configuration. What happens, for example, when universities absorb unknown levels of risk? Robinson argues that in the years since the global financial crisis translational science and medicine has brought about “the financialization of health.”

Robinson explores such topics as shareholder anxiety and industry retreat from Alzheimer's and depression research; how laboratory research is understood as health innovation even when there is no product; the emergence of investor networking events as crucial for viewing science in a market context; and the place of patients in research decisions. Although translational medicine justifies itself by the goal of relieving patients' suffering, Robinson finds patients' voices largely marginalized in translational neuroscience.


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262536875 324 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 37 figures


  • There is no more important problem facing society today than translating advances in basic science into therapeutics benefitting patients. The Market in Mind is a deep and richly researched examination of this pressing, yet understudied, realm of innovation. The implications of this book go well beyond the field of neuroscience. Any scholar, practitioner, or policymaker interested in the economics, politics, and business of science will gain valuable insights from this book.

    Gary Pisano

    Harry E. Figgie Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean of the Harvard Business School, author of Creative Construction: The DNA of Sustained Innovation

  • This book makes an important and original argument about the financialization of health, relevant to a wide range of health care domains. Robinson builds on earlier work on the confluence of biomedical research and financial capitalism to focus on psychiatry and neuroscience and to examine the role played by translational medicine in this moment of crisis for the multinational pharmaceutical industry.

    Eugene Raikhel

    Associate Professor, Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago

  • Robinson brings incisive ethnographic insights to a critically misunderstood topic: the financing of biomedicine. Tracing tectonic global shifts in the interests that underpin innovations in science and medicine, The  Market in Mind brings an urgent analysis to the very meaning of public, global health. This is a must-read for anyone interested in health and the forces that militate to undermine it.

    S. Lochlann Jain

    Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University