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Ethical issues and further resources

Animal to human transplantation research (Xenotransplantation)

Xenotransplantation is the term used to cover the transplantation of cells, tissues or organs from one species to another.

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is the application of laboratory or clinical technology to gametes (human egg or sperm) and/or embryos for the purposes of reproduction. All reproductive medicine units offering ART services should comply with the NHMRC Ethical Guidelines in use of assisted reproductive technology in clinical practice and research (2007) (ART Guidelines).


NHMRC has developed this Biobanks Information Paper to provide information relevant to the establishment, management and governance of biobanks in Australia.

More information on the Biobanks Information Paper.

Clinical Ethics

The AHEC Consensus Statement on Clinical Ethics was developed by the Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) to support efforts by Australian governments and healthcare organisations to establish and strengthen clinical ethics services and resources in Australia.

The AHEC Consensus Statement on Clinical Ethics is a product of AHEC’s ‘Clinical Ethics Capacity Building’ project. A resource manual for use by healthcare organisations considering developing a clinical ethics service is also being developed as part of this project.  These initiatives are indicative of the importance that the NHMRC places on raising awareness of the importance of clinical ethics services as a core component of the delivery of high quality health care in Australia.

Development of Guidelines for the Care of People in Post-Coma Unresponsiveness

The Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) established a Working Party in 2005 to develop guidelines for the care of people diagnosed with post-coma unresponsiveness and people in a minimally responsive state.

Fetal tissue use in research

Research involving the fetus and fetal tissue requires special consideration. The National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007) and the Ethical Guidelines on the Use of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and Research (2007) are used as a guide on ethical matters for research involving the human fetus or human fetal tissue.

Health research privacy framework

The primary focus of the NHMRC with respect to privacy is in relation to research, balancing the need for the protection of personal privacy in data, and the need to facilitate access to data for research purposes.

Human genetics

Nationally and internationally advances in genetic research and genetic testing are ongoing. Information on ethical aspects of genetic research and genetic testing including privacy and confidentiality, are provided.

Organ donation

NHMRC has established an Expert Advisory Group under section 39 of the National Health and Medical Research Act 1992 following a joint request from the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) and the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) to develop ethical guidelines for organ transplantation from deceased donors.

Current NHMRC publications relating to organ transplantation are available for use by consumers and health professionals.

Peer review and ethical review

NHMRC has provided clarification of the relationship between peer review conducted by NHMRC and ethical review conducted by an institutional ethics committee, and the expectations of NHMRC with respect to NHMRC funded research.

Prohibition of human cloning for reproduction

In 2002 the Australian Parliament passed two Acts to legislate on issues around human cloning and research involving human embryos.

Stem cells, cloning and related issues

This page contains an overview of stem cells, the regulation of human embryo research and the prohibition of human cloning for reproduction in Australia.

Page last updated on 2 March 2015