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British Govt Advisor to Collaborate w Genome Work

British Govt Medical Law And Ethics Advisor to Collaborate with Otago-Led Human Genome Project

One of the UK’s foremost authorities on medical law and ethics, Professor Sheila McLean, is visiting the University of Otago as part of her collaboration with the Human Genome Research Project: Law, Ethics and Policy for the Future.

The three-year, New Zealand Law Foundation-funded project is examining the likely impact of emerging human genetic technologies and exploring how New Zealand should respond to issues regarding their implications.

Professor McLean is one of a number of overseas experts being brought in to collaborate on the research project and help develop the debate on medical, ethical, and legal issues. She will be working with the Otago Law Faculty and Bioethics Centre.

As well as being the Chair of Law and Ethics in Medicine at Glasgow University, Professor McLean has been a consultant to the World Health Organisation and the Council of Europe, and a Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology.

She has developed a reputation as the person the British government turns to for advice when new genetic technologies create new moral and legal dilemmas.

Human Genome Research Project leader and Dean of the University of Otago Law Faculty, Professor Mark Henaghan, says being able to draw on the expertise of someone with Professor McLean’s knowledge and experience is a huge boost to the work of the project.

Currently, the project researchers are looking at pre-birth genetic technologies, such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), and Professor McLean will be able to give advice about UK developments in that area, he says.

“Professor McLean will be able to provide valuable insights into the UK experience with legal and ethical issues relating to assisted human reproductive technology, particularly how the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority there has dealt with cases coming before it in the past 15 years,” Professor Henaghan says.

“Our research team will also be able to benefit from her wealth of knowledge and insight into the complex moral issues in health and science which she will also be able to share.”

Professor Henaghan says her arrival here signals the official start of her collaboration with the project.

Professor Donald Evans, Director of the Bioethics Centre, says he has known Professor McLean for many years and looks forward to hearing about the UK views and regulatory experience with genetic technologies.

Professor McLean will be at the University of Otago until the 11th of November.

ENDS

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