Centre for Law and Genetics


The Centre for Law and Genetics (CLG) was established in 1994 as a partnership between Professors Don Chalmers, Margaret Otlowski and Dianne Nicol together with our collaborator from the University of Melbourne, Professor Loane Skene. The aim was to undertake focussed research on the ethical, legal and social implications of genetic technologies in Australia. This came soon after the ELSI (Ethical, Legal and Social Issues) program was established in the US in response to the Human Genome Project.

ELSI remains a key focus of the CLG's research, which also comes within the UTAS ‘Better Health’ research theme.

Key goals of the CLG's projects are to:

  • develop and improve regulatory standards in the field of genetics/genomics;
  • facilitate the promise of genetic technology and other emerging technologies; and
  • facilitate better healthcare in society.

The overriding aim of our research is to promote effective governance of genetic and other new technologies in health care delivery and biomedical research and to facilitate equitable distribution of benefits. The CLG has been very fortunate to secure regular research funding through the ARC and more recently, Genomics Health Futures Mission to continue our Australian focused ELSI research.

After many years under the leadership of Professor Don Chalmers (inaugural Director through to 2014) followed by Professor Dianne Nicol (2015-2021), the CLG currently operates under the leadership of Professor Margaret Otlowski as Director and Associate Professor Jane Nielsen as Deputy Director. Other key CLG people include Dr Lisa Eckstein, Dr Rebekah McWhirter (Adjunct Senior Lecturer at Deakin University) and a number of other affiliates as well as a number of postgraduate students who  have joined the CLG and brought rich new areas of research.

In 2019 the CLG celebrated its 25 years of research into the ethical, legal and social implications of genetic, genomics and related technologies, marking the production of around 250 peer-reviewed articles, books and book chapters.

The CLG has also established an Occasional Paper series to publish workshop papers, results of empirical studies and policy statements.

We welcome opportunities for further research in the law and health areas as well as inquiries for research based higher degrees.