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Dr Cathy Herbrand

Job: VC 2020 Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Applied Social Sciences

Research group(s): Centre for Reproduction Research

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)1162506422




Personal profile

Cathy Herbrand is a Vice-Chancellor's 2020 Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Reproduction Research. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the Université libre de Bruxelles which was funded by the Belgian Scientific Research Funds (FNRS). As a FNRS Postdoctoral Researcher, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Social Sience, Health and Medicine Department at King’s College London and at the BIOS Research Centre at London School of Economics and Political Science, as well as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Ottawa.

Cathy is also an appointed member of the Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics (2014-2018).

Her research interests lie in the sociological and anthropological study of family, biotechnologies and genetics, with a particular focus on reproductive decision-making, multi-parenthood and gender issues. She is especially interested in exploring the interactions between new parental and reproductive practices and their legal regulation. 

Cathy is currently undertaking research on reproductive choices in the context of mitochondrial disorders. The aim of the research is to gain a better understanding of the interactions between scientific progress, policies and people’s lives, through the analysis of the debates surrounding mitochondrial replacement techniques under development in the UK and their impacts on families affected by mitochondrial disorders.

Cathy is also actively involved in two international collaborative research projects:

-‘A legal and sociological analysis of cross-border surrogacy in France, the UK, Belgium, and Israel’ funded by the French Ministryof Justice and the CNRS and led by Dr K. Parizer (Jan 2015-2017).

-'BioARReMe: The bio-economy of reproduction. The mutually constitutive interaction between assisted reproduction and regenerative medicine in Spain and UK' supervised by Dr V. Pavone (April 2013-June 2015). 

Her previous work explored multi-parenthood through the study of gay and lesbian families’ experiences and regulation in Belgium. Cathy has also studied and published many papers and book chapters on the legal recognition of gay and lesbian parenthood and assisted conception in Belgium, Quebec and the UK.

Research group affiliations

Publications and outputs 

Click here to view a full listing of Cathy Herbrand's publications and outputs.

Research interests/expertise

  • Sociology of family
  • Reproductive technologies
  • Gay and lesbian families
  • Multi-parenthood
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Genetics
  • Sociology of health and biomedicine
  • Sociology of law and bioethics

Areas of teaching

  •  Family and Reproduction
  •  Gender and Sexuality
  •  Social Research Methods
  •  Studying and recruiting vulnerable populations
  •  Sociology 
  •  Health and Medicine
  •  Feminist Anthropology


  • Ph.D. in Sociology, Université Libre de Bruxelles (2004 – 2008)
  • Postgraduate degree in Sociology, Université Libre de Bruxelles (2003 – 2004)
  • MA in Sociology, Université Libre de Bruxelles (2001 – 2003)  
  • BA in Sociology and Anthropology, Université Libre de Bruxelles (1999 – 2001)

Courses taught

  • MA Module 'Researching vulnerable populations' (as a guest lecturer - May 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, King’s College London). Sessions on 'Sampling and recruiting vulnerable and hard to reach groups' and 'Encouraging participation in research'.
  • Doctoral Training Programme in Research Methods (as a guest lecturer - Feb 2016, De Montfort University). Session on 'Handling sensitive issues in interviewing'.
  • BA Module 'Gender, health and healthcare' (as a guest lecturer - Feb 2015-16, De Montfort University). Session on 'Reproductive choices in the context of mitochondriql disorders.
  • Module 'MA Applied Health Studies' (as a guest lecturer - Jan 2015-16. De Montfort University. Session on 'Qualitative methods ans Data Analysis'.
  • BA Module 'Ethnology History' (as a guest lecturer - 19 May 2015- University of Neuchatel, Switzerland). Session entitled 'Feminist anthropology' (in French).
  • MA Module 'Advanced Topics in Anthropology: Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality' (Feb 2010 – Jun 2010, in French, 24h, Université Libre de Bruxelles).
  • BA Course 'Introduction to Sociology' (Part-time Professor, in French, 24h, Université Libre de Bruxelles).
  • BA Course 'Socio-anthropology of Family (Temporary Professor - Sep 2008 – Jan 2009, in French, 45h University of Ottawa)


Honours and awards

Grants, honours and awards:

  • DMU Future Research Leaders Programme (Jan 2015-Dec 2015): monthly training sessions, 1-2-1 coaching and research visit with prof. Rayna Rapp at New York University (Nov 2015).
  • De Monfort Early-Career Research Fellowship (Nov 2013-Oct 2015)
  • FNRS Four-year Postdoctoral Fellowship (Oct 2008-Sept 2012)
  • FNRS Four-year PhD scholarship (Oct 2004-Sept 2008)
  • Overseas research visit grant from the Communauté française (Belgium)
  • Award from the Sociology Department (ULB) for producing one of the top three 2003 Master Theses
  • Best graduating student in 2003: Excellence Award from the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Membership of external committees

  • Appointed member of the Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics (2014-2018)
  • Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals & Public Policy (King’s College London)
  • Member of the expert group set up and regularly consulted by the Belgian Committee for the Children’s Rights (Brussels, May 2010 – 2014)
  • Invited expert. Debate on “step-families” organised by Les Femmes Prévoyantes Socialistes (Belgium, 26 Mar 2013) 
  • Invited expert. Debate on “the regulation of surrogacy in Belgium” organised by the Belgian Association of Lesbian and Gay Families (Brussels, 30 Nov 2012)
  • Member of a doctoral jury: dissertation of Katrien De Graeve (University of Gent, 4 May 2012)
  • Invited expert. Conseil supérieur de l’Adoption (Ministère de la Communauté française, Belgium - 5 Oct 2011).
  • Member of the Editorial Board. Revue de l’Institut de sociologie (Brussels, 2010 – 2012)
  • Member of the Scientific Board of a research on transsexuality funded by the Institut pour l’égalité des hommes et des femmes (Brussels, Sep 08-May 09) 
  • Invited expert. Research on step-families funded by the Fondation Roi Baudouin, Apr 2009).

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Co-convenor of the British Sociological Association’s East Midlands Medical Sociology Group
  • Co-convenor of the British Sociological Association’s Human Reproduction Study Group
  • Member of the British Sociological Association (BSA)
  • Member of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)

Conference attendance

  • ‘Mitochondrial donation, patient engagement and narratives of hope’, paper presented at the British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Group Annual Conference, University of York, 15 September 2017.

  • ‘Genome editing: social and ethical challenges’, invited speaker at the Talking about Genome Editing workshop organised by Genetic Alliance UK and Progress Educational Trust, London, 20 May 2017.

  • ‘Techniques de remplacement mitochondrial en Grande-Bretagne: incertitudes médicales et enjeux de régulation’, invited speaker at the EHESS TechnoRep seminar, Paris, France, 15 May 2017.

  • ‘Mitochondrial donation: Who are the potential beneficiaries’, paper presented at The Sociology of Mitochondrial Disorders and Novel Reproductive Technologies Symposium, London, 5 May 2017.

  • Mitochondrial therapeutic interventions: who will benefit?’, presented at the World Congress of the International Association of Bioethics (IAB), Edinburgh, UK,15 June 2016.

  • 'Mitochondria, the "augment" techniaue and the reconfiguration of reproductive ageing' (with N. Buhler), presented at the Symposium 'Postponing Childbirth, Extending Fertility? Biotechnologies and the Transformations of Reproductive Life’ (URL:, De Montfort University, UK.13 May 2016.

  • 'New mitochondrial donation techniques and reproductive choices: perceptions, hopes and ambivalences in women’s accounts’ (with R. Dimond), presented at the BSA Human Reproduction and Families and Relationships Study Groups Conference, University of Roehampton, UK,11 Nov 2015.            

  • ‘Mitochondrial replacement techniques: the “miracle solution” for women to have healthy biological children?’, presented at the International Conference ‘Reproductive rights, new reproductive technologies and the European fertility market’, Bilbao, Spain, 19 Nov 2015.                

  • ‘Inheritance and reproductive processes in the lens of mitochondrial replacement techniques’, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), Denver, US, 13 Nov 2015.   

  • ‘“Conceived from three genetic parents?” Reproduction, inheritance and life processes beyond mitochondrial replacement techniques’. Invited speaker at the Science Studies seminar, Department of Anthropology, New York University, US, 30 Oct 2015.  

  • ‘Information sharing in donor conception: considering the impact of differing regulatory approaches in the UK and Belgium’, presented at the British Sociological Association’s Medical Sociology Group Annual Conference,  University of York, UK, 10 Sep 2015.             

  • ‘Technology of hope vs. the slippery slope?’ Deconstructing the debate on ‘three parent IVF’. Invited keynote speaker at the British Sociological Association’s Human Reproduction Study Group Annual Meeting, Open University, UK, 23 July 2015.

  • ‘Créer un enfant ayant trois "parents" génétiques? Caractéristiques et enjeux socio-anthropologiques des techniques de remplacement mitochondrial’, presentation at the Congress of the Association française d'ethnologie et d'anthropologie, Toulouse, France, 1 July 2015.

  • ‘Medically-based genetic diagnosis vs. experience-based disease definition: consequences for sampling in qualitative research’, presentation at the Global Congress for Qualitative Health Research, Merida, Mexico, 19 Mar 2015.

  • ‘Egg donation in the UK: Key developments and research priorities’ (with N. Hudson and L. Culley), presentation at the workshop ‘Egg donation in Europe: evidence from research, policy and practice’, De Montfort University, Leicester, 24 Nov 2014.

  • ‘Définition et ampleur des recompositions familiales : le point de vue du sociologue’. Invited speaker at the interdisciplinary conference on ‘Step-families’, Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, 14 Nov 2014.

  • 'Egg procurement in practice: a comparison of the UK and Spain', presented at the International Conference on Critical Kinship Studies, Odense, Denmark,10 Oct 2014.

  • 'Egg procurement in practice: a comparison of the UK and Spain', presented at at the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Conference, Buenos Aires, Argentina,  20 Aug 2014.

  • 'Nuclear tranfer techniques for mitochondrial disorders', invited speaker by The Prince’s Teaching Institute, Birkbeck University, London, UK, 14 July 2014.

  • ‘Genetics, reproduction and biotechnologies in the context of mitochondrial disorders’, presented at the Reproduction Research Group Seminar, De Montfort University, UK, 26 Feb 2014.

  • “Approche pluridisciplinaire des questions de parentalité”, presented at the XIII Conference of the Belgian Association Family and Law, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 29 Nov 2013.

  • “Les impasses de la pluriparentalité en droit belge, français et québécois”, invited speaker at the “Semaine du Genre” organised by the Université de Nice and Alter Egaux, Nice, France, 7 Nov 2013.

  • “How gay and lesbian couples in coparenting arrangements regard biology and multi-parental recognition”, invited speaker at the Bioethics Institute Ghent, Gent, Belgium. 4 Sep 2013.

  • Herbrand, C. “Nuclear Transfer Techniques for Mitochondrial Disorders: Ethical Issues with respect to the Germ-line Categorisation”, paper presented at the XX Conference of Law and Human Genome, Bilbao, Spain, 21 May 2013.

  • Herbrand, C. ‘‘Que devient le parent social lorsque les deux parents biologiques sont présents ? Analyse de coparentalités gaies et lesbiennes’’, paper presented at the international ACFAS Conference « Regards croisés sur les familles issues de la diversité sexuelle », Québec, Canada, 9 May 2013.

  • Herbrand, C. “Famille, familles: aspects sociologiques”, invited speaker at the conference organised by the association Femmes Prévoyantes Socialistes, Brussels, Belgium, 23 Apr 2013.

  • Herbrand, C. “Preventing mitochondrial disorders through nuclear transfer techniques: social and ethical issues”, paper presented at the interdisciplinary workshop on “Genetic Transparency” (18-23 March), Lübeck, Germany, 20 Mar 2013.

  • Herbrand, C. “La pluriparentalité dans le contexte belge”, invited speaker at the conference “Les nouvelles familles” organised by the APGL and the CNAFAL, Lille, France, 5 Mar 2013.

  • Herbrand, C. “A step further: questioning kinship and reproductive choice in the perspective of the new nuclear transfer techniques for mitochondrial disorders”, conference on “Selective reproductive technologies”, Copenhagen, Denmark, 14 Dec 2012.

  • Herbrand, C. “Family relationships in gay father families”, presented at the workshop “We are Family? Perceptions of relatedness in assisted conception families”, Geneva, Switzerland, 15 Nov 2012.

  • Herbrand, C. “Between open-identity, anonymity, and disclosure in gamete and embryo donations: a comparative analysis of the UK and Belgian policies”, presented at the ESF Exploratory Workshop on “New Perspectives on Gamete and Embryo Donation: Ethics, Kinship and Citizenship in a Globalised World”, Colchester, UK, 11 Sep 2012.

  • Herbrand, C. « La régulation des nouvelles formes de parenté en Belgique : enjeux éthiques et questions en suspens », presented at the conference « Genre et éthique », Institut Emilie du Châtelet, Paris, France, 8 Jun 2012.

  • Herbrand, C. “The Gay and Lesbian Coparenting Projects: Between Changes and Continuities”, Center for Family Research Seminar, University of Cambridge, UK, 20 Feb 2012.

  • Herbrand, C. "Gender relationships and kinship representations within gay and lesbian coparenting projects”, presented at the Annual Congress of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), Montréal, Canada, 19 Nov 2011.

  • Herbrand, C. « La procréation médicalement assistée en Belgique : reflet de la diversité familiale ? », presented at the conference « Nouvelles techniques de reproduction, genre et parenté », Lyon, France, 15 Nov 2011.

  • Herbrand, C. “Biology and Gender Representations in Alternative Families: the Case of Lesbian and Gay Coparenting Projects”, invited speaker at the Bios Seminar, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK, 9 Jun 2011.

  • Herbrand, C. « How trying to conform to some “traditional” parental norms can create new family patterns: the case of lesbian and gay “co-parenting” », presented at the annual Congress of the British Sociological Association (BSA), London, UK, 8 Apr 2011.

Consultancy work

  • Member of the Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics (2014-2018)
  • Gender Advisor and Programme Coordinator for the Gender Equality Chart Trial of the Social Science, Health and Medicine Department at King’s College London
  • Expert for the Belgian Committee of the Children’s Rights (Service du Délégué général aux droits de l'enfant).

Current research students

  • Kriss Fearon, PhD Bursary student (Sept 2015-Sept 2018): first supervisor
  • Paris Connolly, PhD Bursary student (Sept 2015-Sept 2017): second supervisor
  • Katie Philips, MA Applied Health Studies student (May 2014-Sep 2016): supervisor

Externally funded research grants information

  • Postponing childbirth, extending fertility: biotechnologies and the transformations of reproductive life. Wellcome Trust Society & Ethics Small Grant Award. Hudson, N. (PI), Baldwin K., Buhler N., Culley L., Daly I., Herbrand C. (CI), Law C. £4990 (April – Oct 2016).
  • Collaborative development of a multi-disciplinary research council funding application on the experience and ethics of egg donation. Sociology of Health and Illness Foundation Research Grant Development Award. Hudson N. (PI), Culley L., Herbrand C. (CI), Pennings G., Pavone V. £5178. October 2014 – May 2015.

Internally funded research project information

  • DMU Future Research Leaders Programme (Jan 2015-Dec 2015): monthly training sessions, 1-2-1 coaching and internship with prof. Rayna Rapp at New York University (Nov 2015).
  • Exploring perceptions of reproductive timing within British South Asian communities: A qualitative study. Funding awarded for 3 year High Flyer PhD Scholarship, De Montfort University. Daly I. (1st supervisor), Hudson N., Herbrand C. (October 2016 – 2019).
  • Reproductive decision-making, parenthood and the use of assisted conception amongst women with Turner Syndrome: an exploratory study. Funding awarded for 3 year PhD Scholarship, De Montfort University. Herbrand C. (1st supervisor), Hudson N., Daly I. (October 2015 – 2018).
  • Egg Donation in Europe: an international workshop. De Montfort University Revolving Investment Fund. Hudson N. (PI), Culley L., Herbrand C. (CI) (£4505. August 2014-July 2015).
  • De Montfort University Early Career Research Fellowship, Funding awarded for 2 years  (Nov 2013-Nov 2015).


Co-edited volume of a journal:

- 2014 ‘Parenté et techniques de reproduction assistée : les enjeux contemporains au regard du genre’ Enfances, Familles et Générations, 21 (with J. Courduriès).

- 2010 'Sexualités : apprentissage et performance' Civilisations. Revue internationale d’anthropologie et de sciences humaines, vol. 59 (1) (with D. Berliner).

Single authored monograph:

- 2006 « L’adoption par les couples de même sexe », Courrier hebdomadaire du CRISP, Centre de Recherche et d’information sociopolitiques (CRISP), Brussels, n°1911-1912, 72 p.

Articles and book chapters (refereed):

- 2016 (with A. Kerasidou and M. Dreyer) ‘Who is the subject of genetic responsibility?’, in Dreyer M., Erdmann J. and C. Rehmann-Sutter (eds.), Genetic Transparency? Ethical and social implications of next generation human genomics and genetic medicine, Brill, 81-112.

- 2015 (with Nicky Hudson) ‘Information sharing in donor conception: comparing regulations, ethics and cultural practices in the UK and Belgium’, Journal of Medical Law and Ethics, Special Issue on ‘Deconstructing Donation’, vol. 3 (3), 175-192.

- 2015 ‘Comprendre le besoin de reconnaissance légale en matière de pluriparentalité : pistes de réflexion à partir des  coparentalités gaies et lesbiennes’, Canadian Journal of Women and the Law/Revue Femmes et Droit, 71-93.

- 2014 (with M. Smietana, S. Jennings and S. Golombok) ‘Family relationships in gay father families with young children in Belgium, Spain and the UK’, in Freeman T., Graham S., Ebtehaj F., Richards M. (eds.), 'Relatedness in Assisted Reproduction: families, origins, identities', Cambridge,Cambridge University Press, p. 192-211.

-2014 (with J. Courduriès) ‘Gender, kinship and assisted reproductive technologies:
future directions after 30 years of research’ Enfances, Familles et Générations, 21,1-27. URL: 

- 2014 (with J. Courduriès) ‘Genre, parenté et techniques de reproduction assistée : bilan et perspectives après 30  ans de recherche’ Enfances, Familles et Générations,  21, 1-27 . URL:

- 2014 (with N. Gallus) ‘La parentalité sous l’angle du droit et de la sociologie : évolutions, enjeux et régulation’, in J. Sosson (ed.), Filiation, origines, parentalité, Brussels, Larcier – Bruylant, 313-346  .

- 2014 ‘Nuclear Transfer Techniques for mitochondrial disorders: How to conceptualise them ethically with respect to the germ-line therapies?’ Law and the Human Genome Review, Special Issue 2014, 243-249.

  -2014 « Les rendre grands-parents : l’enjeu des relations intergénérationnelles au sein des coparentalités gaies et lesbiennes », in Courduriès J., Fine A. (eds.), Homosexualité et parenté, Armand Colin, p. 175-188.

- 2012« La filiation à l’épreuve de la présomption de « paternité » pour les couples de même sexe : questionnements et perspectives à partir du cas belge », Droit et Société, n°82, p. 689-712.

- 2012 « La loi sur la procréation médicalement assistée en Belgique : reflet de la diversité familiale ? », in Gallus N. (ed.), Le droit des familles : genre et sexualité, Bruxelles, Anthemis, p. 321-337.

- 2011 « L’impasse de la pluriparentalité au niveau légal : analyse du projet de “parenté sociale” en Belgique », Enfances, Familles et Générations, n°14, p. 26-50.

- 2011 « La filiation monosexuée en Belgique et au Québec : jeux et enjeux de parcours législatifs distincts », in Corriveau P., Daoust V. (eds.), La régulation sociale des « minorités sexuelles », Québec, Presses de l’Université du Québec, p. 105-134.

- 2010 (with D. Berliner) « Pragmatiques et médiations sexuelles », Civilisations. Revue internationale d’anthropologie et de sciences humaines, vol. 59 (1), p. 11–20.

- 2010 (with D. Paternotte) « Vers la fin de l'opposition homosexualité/hétérosexualité en droit familial belge ? »,Bulletin d’histoire politique, Montréal, vol. 18 (2), p. 139-152.

- 2009 « Déclinaisons du désir d’enfant dans les coparentalités homosexuelles », Revue des Sciences Sociales, Université de Strasbourg, n°41, p. 38-49.

- 2009 (with D. Paternotte), « L’hétérosexualité au miroir des évolutions contemporaines du couple et de la famille », in Deschamps C., Gaissad L., Taraud C. (eds.), Hétéros, Paris, Epel, p. 155-165.

- 2008 « Belgique. Les mutations du mariage et de la parenté », in Descoutures V., Digoix M., Fassin E., Rault W. (eds.), Mariages et homosexualités dans le monde. L’arrangement des normes familiales, Paris, Autrement, p. 32-42.

- 2008 « Le concept de “risque” dans le cadre des expérimentations pharmacologiques », in Cartuyvels Y. (eds.), Les ambivalences du risque. Regards croisés en sciences sociales, Brussels, Facultés universitaires Saint-Louis, p. 281-295.

- 2007 « Les sciences sociales à l’épreuve de l’homoparentalité », Cultures et Sociétés, n°3, p. 36-40.

- 2007 « La parenté sociale : une réponse à la diversité familiale ? », in Casman M.-T., Simays C., Bulckens R., Mortelmans D. (eds.), Familles plurielles. Politique familiale sur mesure?, Brussels, Editions Luc Pire, p. 183-189.

- 2007 « Corps et expérimentations pharmacologiques », Illusio. Revue de l’Université de Caen-Basse-Normandie, n°4, p. 331-347.

- 2007 (with D. Paternotte) « L’ouverture du mariage et de l’adoption aux couples de même sexe : dernière étape des politiques « homosexuelles » ? », L’Année Sociale 2006, Université Libre de Bruxelles, p. 47-62.

- 2006 (with A. Dewaele and D. Paternotte) « Etudes gayes et lesbiennes/holebi-studies : Etat des savoirs critique et regards croisés entre la Flandre et la Communauté française de Belgique », Conference proceedings of « Savoirs de genre, quel genre de savoir ? », a conference organized by the Sophia network (Oct 20-21, 2005), Brussels, p. 154-171.

Papers (non-refereed):

- 11 Jan 2016 ‘Three-person IVF: What makes mitochondrial donation different?’, BioNews, 834. URL: 

- 22 Sept 2014 “Radio Review: Mum and Dad and Mum”, BioNews, 772. URL:

- 2007 « Qu’en est-il de l’adoption par des couples homosexuels ? », Journal du Droit des Jeunes. Revue d’action juridique et sociale, Bruxelles, p. 31-33.

- 2006 (with David Paternotte) « Couples et familles homosexuelles. Aspirations contemporaines », Espace de Libertés, Bruxelles, Centre d’Action Laïque, n°341, p. 12-13.

Research reports:

- 2004 « Le métro Bruxellois », Rapport général : Processus d’écoute des citoyens concernant l’insécurité. Projet de la Fondation Roi Baudouin, Bruxelles, Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis, Centres d’études sociologiques, 36 p.

- 2004 (with G. Stangherlin) « La gare du Nord », Rapport général : Processus d’écoute des citoyens concernant l’insécurité. Projet de la Fondation Roi Baudouin, Bruxelles, Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis, Centres d’études sociologiques, 39 p.



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