Dianne Nicol is a Professor of Law at the University of Tasmania in Australia and director of the Centre for Law and Genetics (CLG), which is housed in the Law Faculty. The broad theme of the CLG's research is the regulation and governance of biotechnology, human genetics and genomics and stem cell technology.

Dianne's current research focuses primarily on the regulation and governance of personalized medicine, biobanking, genome editing and other emerging technologies, together with commercialisation of biotechnology and patenting of biotechnological inventions. She has held a number of Australian Research Council (ARC) discovery grants and currently leads two ARC funded projects, one on the legal, research ethics and social issues associated with genomic data sharing and the other on the regulation of innovative health technologies.

Dianne also holds the role of Chair of Academic Senate at the University of Tasmania. She is currently a member of the Steering Committee for the Australian Government's Genomics Futures Mission. She was a member of two principal committees of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Health Ethics Committee and the Embryo Research Licensing Committee in the triennium from 2015 to 2018 and the Gene Technology Ethics and Community Consultative Committee of the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator from 2017 to 2018. In 2018 she was appointed to chair the Embryo Research Licensing Committee. She is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.


  • Employment: Professor of Law, University of Tasmania
  • Director: Centre for Law and Genetics, University of Tasmania
  • Member: Several local and national committees in the areas of law, health and genomics.
  • Funding: Grant from IP Australia (2017); Chief investigator on two Australian Research Council Discovery Grant Projects
Professor Sheryl de Lacey

de Lacey

Sheryl de Lacey is Professor of Nursing at Flinders University where she teaches bioethics and professional conduct. She is co-author of the book Ethics and Law for Australian Nurses. She has been a member of several Research Ethics Committees, chaired the Animal welfare Committee at Flinders University for five years and is currently an expert member of Bellberry Ltd.

She specialises in Infertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). She has a clinical background in this field of Nursing and a strong background in consultancy and advisory roles to National and State Government bodies concerned with regulating ART practice. She was deputy chair of the SA Council on Reproductive Technology, a member of the National Bioethics Consultative Committee and has been a member of two working parties reviewing the NHMRC ethical guidelines on the use of assisted reproductive technology in clinical practice and research.

Her research focus is infertility and its social effects, the impact of ART on patients, the impact of social policy on ART patients and practice, and bioethical issues arising in ART. She conducted a major qualitative study of patients' decisions for frozen supernumerary embryos and a major population study of attitudes towards biological donation including organ donation and embryo donation. Currently she is involved in research into community views of mitochondrial donation and non-medical sex selection, Sheryl coordinates the Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (FAB) group and is a member of the SA Health Professional Tribunal.


  • Employment: Adjunct Professor of Nursing, College of Nursing & Health Sciences
  • Funding: Flinders University Research Grant (2017) Sydney University and the Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (2017) Flinders Fertility Research Grant (2015) Flinders Fertility Research Grant (2014)
Associate Professor Bernadette Richards

Associate Professor

Bernadette Richards, BA, LLB (Hons), PhD is Associate Professor of Law and Associate Dean (Research), at the University of Adelaide, Australia. She teaches in the areas of medical law and ethics, bioethics and tort law and is the Director of the Research Unit for the Study of Society, Ethics and the Law and Associate Dean, Research. An active researcher, she has completed major projects on organ donation, consent to treatment and legal issues around innovative surgery. She is a chief investigator of a current National Health and Medical Research Council-funded Partnership Grant, "Strategies for the inclusion of vulnerable populations in developing complex and sensitive public policy: A case study in Advance Care Planning" and is currently writing a book 'Technology, Healthcare and the Law: An evolving relationship'. She has published over 40 journal articles and book chapters. Further information about Bernadette.


  • Employment: A/Professor of Law, University of Adelaide (Medical Law, Bioethics and Tort Law)
  • Funding: NHMRC Partnership Grant and Australian Research Council Linkage Grant 


Patrick Tam, PhD FAA FAHMS FRSB FRS, is the Deputy Director and Head of the Embryology Research Unit at the Children's Medical Research Institute, a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow and Professor in the School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health of the University of Sydney.

Patrick's research focuses on the systems-based investigation of the functional attributes of gene regulatory network in body patterning during mouse development and the differentiation of stem cells. The embryological analysis of cell fates, together with the developmental spatial transcriptome analysis of the gastrulating embryo, revealed the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underpin the organization of the basic body plan of the early embryo. The in-depth knowledge of lineage differentiation during early embryogenesis guides the development of protocols for directing the first steps of differentiation of stem cells into clinically useful cell types for cellular therapy.

Patrick is an Editor of the journal Development and serves on editorial board of Developmental Cell, Developmental Biology, Differentiation and Genesis. He is the chair of the scientific advisory committee of Stem Cell Australia and serves on the scientific advisory board of the School of Biomedical Sciences of the University of Hong Kong and the Board of Directors of the International Society of Differentiation. In recognition of his professional accomplishments, he was awarded the President's Medal of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Cell and Developmental Biology and elected Fellow of Australian Academy of Science, Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science, Royal Society of Biology and Royal Society of London.


  • Employment: Professor, School of Medical Sciences, University of Sydney; Deputy Director and Head of Embryology Research Unit, Children's Medical Research Institute, University of Sydney 
  • Appointment: NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, School of Biomedical Sciences, Li Ka Shing; Mok Hing-Yiu Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Hong Kong
  • Funding (research in mammalian development and functional genomics of rare genetic diseases): NHMRC Project grant (2017-2019) NHMRC Project Grant (2018-2022) NHMRC Research Fellowship (2016-2020) ARC Discovery Project grant (2019-2021) Principal Investigator; NSW Government-Paediatrio: Paediatrics Precision Medicine Program (2019-2022) Program 1 Principal Investigator


Steve Robson is a specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist with a special interest in reproductive medicine and surgery. In addition he is Professor at the Australian National University Medical School with research interests in reproductive surgery, assisted reproduction, surgical economics, and general gynaecological surgery.

Steve holds Masters Degrees in Human Genetics and Public Health, and his Doctorate dealt with unexplained stillbirth. He is a Fellow of the Colleges of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Australia, the UK, and the United States. He is currently President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) and a member of the Federal Council of the Australian Medical Association (AMA).


  • Employment: Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist in private practice; Genea Clinic in Canberra 
  • Member: RANZCOG Genomic Advisory Working Group (Chair); Australian Medical Association (AMA) Federal Council; Australian Consensus Framework (ACF) for Ethical Collaboration in the Health Sector 
  • Funding: Mackenzie's Mission grant (Australian Reproductive Carrier Screening Program)

St John

  • Professor Justin St. John was awarded his PhD from the University of Birmingham in 1999. Whilst in the UK, he was funded by the Medical Research Council and was appointed Professor of Reproductive Biology at the University of Warwick in 2007. In 2009, he was appointed as the Head of Centre of Genetic Diseases at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia. In April 2019, he moved to the Robinson Research Institute at the University of Adelaide where he is the Head of the Mitochondrial Genetics Group and a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine.

His research focuses on understanding how mitochondrial DNA is transmitted and replicated. Using a variety of assisted reproductive technologies and embryonic stem cell models, he has described mitochondrial DNA replication events in oocytes, embryos and undifferentiated and differentiating embryonic stem cells and why these events are important to developmental outcome. He has also demonstrated why donor cell mitochondrial DNA is transmitted to embryos and offspring following nuclear transfer. Additionally, he has also shown how mitochondrial DNA copy number is regulated in a cell-specific manner by DNA methylation of the nuclear-encoded mitochondrial DNA-specific replication factor; and how mitochondrial DNA haplotypes influence chromosomal gene expression patterns.

He has published in The Lancet, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Cell Biology, Nucleic Acids Research, Stem Cells, Cell Death and Differentiation, Journal of Cell Science, Epigenetics and Chromatin and Genetics. In 2013, he received the Society for Reproductive Biology’s Award for Excellence in Reproductive Biology Research.


  • Funding: OvaScience Inc.
  • Director: Winston Foundation.
  • Founder, shareholder and director: MitoGen Pty.


Kay Oke OAM is a social worker who established the counselling service for IVF and later genetics for the Royal Women's Hospital and Melbourne IVF. She retired 5 years ago. Subsequently she was on the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) for Melbourne IVF and has been on several NHMRC committees.

In June 2017, Ms Oke was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to the community through support and counselling for fertility and human reproduction.


  • Member: HREC for Melbourne IVF
  • Member: ANZICA Australian and New Zealand infertility counsellors; FSA Fertility Society of Australia


As CEO for the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) for the last 12 years, Louise Johnson oversees VARTA's administration of aspects of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 (Vic). From 1 March 2017, VARTA took over management of the Victorian donor conception registers, providing a "one door in" approach to counselling support and information associated with donor conception and the donor registers. With a biological science background, Louise has a Masters in Regulatory Studies, is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and postgraduate qualifications in management and education. Louise is  a community member of the Victorian Board of the Medical Board of Australia.


  • Employment: Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA)

Petrie OAM

Dianne Petrie has a daughter who has Williams syndrome and in l985 established Williams Syndrome Australia (WSA) which continues to assist with on-going research into the syndrome.

Over a twenty three year period, as Executive Director of Genetic Alliance Australia (GA) (formerly AGSA), a peak umbrella organization for rare genetic conditions, the organization expanded and achieved national and global recognition. Dianne established Genetic Alliance's rare diseases contact register representing over fifteen hundred conditions and in 2005 implemented a rural outreach program for carers and developed follow-up information and support systems. She fielded over a thousand calls a year regarding the diagnosis of a genetic condition providing support and information and has personally organized and conducted hundreds of genetic seminars bringing families and individuals together with health care professionals in a non-clinical setting.  She has been involved in research projects with Macquarie and Monash Universities and through advocacy has helped to shape government policy. Dianne was awarded an OAM on the Queen's Birthday Honour’s List in 2006 in recognition of her work.

In 2017 GA conducted a ground breaking survey culminating in the Genome Sequencing Report – Australian Patients and Families Perspectives on Genome Sequencing and Patient Charter. Dianne participated as a consumer partner with the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit and others in a three year national survey on rare diseases.  She was a consumer representative on a number of government committees – Human Genetics Advisory Committee, the NSW Newborn Screening Advisory Committee, ACI Clinical Genetics Executive Committee, PGD Assistance Program, Northern Hospitals Network POWH/SHSEH & CHS Incident & Complaint Review and Consumer Advisory Committees, and Stepping Stones Triple P National Reference Group.


  • Founder and Director: Williams Syndrome Australia Limited