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 Ethical guidelines on the use of assisted reproductive technology in clinical practice and research (2017) (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.

Ethical guidelines for research involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Information on Ethical conduct in research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities: Guidelines for researchers and stakeholders and Keeping research on track II.

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 (2017) are used as a guide on ethical matters for research involving the human fetus or human fetal tissue.

NHMRC's role in the health 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.

Organ donation and transplantation

Through the work of AHEC, NHMRC has issued the following ethical guidelines on organ and tissue transplantation and donation:

  • Organ and tissue donation after death, for transplantation – Guidelines for ethical practice for health professionals, 2007
  • Making a decision about organ and tissue donation after death, 2007
  • Organ and tissue donation by living donors – Guidelines for ethical practice for health professionals, 2007
  • Making a decision about living organ and tissue donation, 2007
  • Ethical guidelines for organ transplantation from deceased donors, 2016.

The 2007 guidelines are currently under review.

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.

Embryo research, stem cells and human cloning

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