The NHMRC Embryo Research Licensing Committee (NHMRC Licensing Committee) was established by the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 and is a Principal Committee of the NHMRC. The Licensing Committee oversees the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 (RIHE Act) and the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2002 (PHCR Act).
The NHMRC Licensing Committee regulates research activities that involve the use of human embryos created by assisted reproductive technology (ART) or by other means. There are strong penalties for non-compliance with the legislation. The legislation also prohibits human cloning for reproductive purposes and a range of other practices relating to reproductive technology.
The NHMRC Licensing Committee has prescribed functions under the national regulatory framework established by the RIHE Act and the PHCR Act.
The functions of the NHMRC Licensing Committee are to:
- consider general and mitochondrial donation applications for licences to conduct research involving human embryos
- issue (subject to conditions) or not issue such licences
- maintain a publicly available database containing information about licences issued
- monitor licensed activities and ensure compliance with the legislation through the appointment of inspectors and take necessary enforcement action, such as cancelling or suspending licences
- report to the Parliament of Australia on the operation of the RIHE Act and the licences issued under this Act
- perform such other functions as are conferred on it by the RIHE Act or any other law.
Current membership of the NHMRC Licensing Committee
Membership of the NHMRC Licensing Committee is prescribed under Section 16 of the RIHE Act, and the Minister is required to consult with the States and Territories before appointing members. Membership comprises individuals with expertise in research ethics, research, assisted reproductive technology, law, consumer health issues, the regulation of assisted reproductive technology, and embryology.