19 members of NHMRC announced on 14 June

CHAIR OF THE ETHICS COMMITTEE : Professor Colin Thomson: a member
selection committee for the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney’s grant
scientific research in 2002 & 2005.

Professor Ronald Trent:
Board member of the Garvan Institute –
set up by the Sisters of Charity
Colin Thomson: a member of
selection committee for the Catholic Archdiocese
of Sydney’s grant for
scientific research in 2002 & 2005.
RESEARCH COMMITTEE Professor James Best: Board Member of St
hospital Melbourne.
LICENSING COMMITTEE : Prof Jock Findlay Assoc
Prof Christopher Newell –
adjunct lecturer in Theological Ethics at Trinity
College Theology School Tasmania


Chairman of AHEC

Professor Colin Thomson is a
Professorial Fellow of the Faculty of Law, University of Wollongong, an
Adjunct Professor of the Faculty of Law, Macquarie University, and was
the full time consultant in health ethics to the National Health and
Medical Research Council (NHMRC) from 2002–2006. He served as member of
the Medical Research Ethics Committee of the NHMRC from 1987 to 1991
and as the member with expertise in law of the Australian Health Ethics
Committee (AHEC) from 1997 until 2002. He was deputy chair of AHEC from
2000-2002. Professor Thomson was a member and chair of the human
research ethics committee at the University of Wollongong and Illawarra
Area Health Service, and has also been a member of the human research
ethics committees of the Australian National University, the Australian
Institute of Health and Welfare, and the Australian Capital Territory
Board of Health. He was a founding member of the board of the
Australian Institute of Health, Law and Ethics.

Other members:

Dr Rosanna Capolingua is chair
of the Australian Medical Association’s Ethics and Medico-legal
Committee and federal treasurer of the AMA. She is a foundation member
of the NHMRC’s Human Genetics Advisory Committee (appointed January
2006). A general practitioner for 20 years, Dr Capolingua maintains a
special interest in youth health, preventative medicine and care of
families. For the past 10 years Dr Capolingua has been the Medical
Director of the AMA (WA) Youth Foundation where, together with medical
students, a program is delivered to high schools helping adolescents
deal with life issues.

Dr Capolingua is a member of the Medical Advisory Committees of Mercy
Hospital and St John of God Hospital Subiaco, and the Director of
General Practice Liaison at SJOG. She is a member of the Board of
Governors of the University of Notre Dame Australia, the Medical Board
of Western Australia and the Board of MercyCare. Dr Capolingua has
recently been elected to the Council of Medical Defence Association –

but…ROSANNA CAPALINGUA: Doctors or pharmacists or other health care
providers really are not there to sit in judgement of those who come to
them seeking help. They are there to provide service and care and I
think that’s got to be the bottom line.

We recognise that we
have our own individual beliefs but we also have to recognise that our
patients or those who come to us have their own beliefs and convictions
and sometimes it’s a difficult thing to resolve in ourselves, but it’s
really something that should not be an issue between a health care
provider and the patient. We are not there to sit in judgement.

TANYA NOLAN: Chair of the Ethics and Medical Legal Committee for the Federal AMA, Dr Rosanna Capolingua.


The Australian Medical Association is questioning the wisdom of making
the pill available without a prescription. AMA ethics spokeswoman
Rosanna Capolingua told The West Australian news she was shocked that
young girls could purchase the drug off the shelf. “Who’s going to
counsel a 13-year-old girl about pregnancy risks as well as all the
surrounding issues such as exposure to sexually transmitted infections,
consent and drugs?” Capolingua said. “It is totally inappropriate to
think that a pharmacist who doesn’t even know the girl will be able to
address those issues in a few minutes.”

Ms Sharon Caris is the executive director of the
Haemophilia Foundation of Australia. Ms Caris has a background in
social work, health administration and advocacy. She has liaised with
state and territory foundations and the World Federation for
Haemophilia, and has been an advocate to governments and other
organisations for quality care and treatment for people with
haemophilia and related bleeding disorders. Ms Caris has been a member
of the NHMRC Special Expert Committee on transmissible spongiform
encephalopathies since 2004.

Mr Christopher Coyne is a solicitor who practises in
the areas of insurance law, health services, corporate governance and
risk management. He was a partner in the national legal firm of Clayton
Utz for 20 years. Mr Coyne is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law
at the University of Queensland, a long-serving member of the Mater
Health Services Human Research Ethics Committee, the Queensland Health
Research Ethics Committee, and is a member of the NHMRC’s Gene and
Related Therapy Research Advisory Panel. He is board chairman of the
Queensland Law Society and a director of the Heart Research Institute
(Queensland). Mr Coyne served on the Australian Health Ethics Committee
in the 2003-2006 triennium.

Associate Professor Terry Dunbar, a member of NHMRC
Committees since 2000 and of AHEC since 2003, played a key role in
AHEC’s national review of ethics guidelines for research in indigenous
communities. Professor Dunbar has15 years experience in senior
management within the Commonwealth and state public services including:
three years as deputy CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for
Aboriginal and Tropical Health; chief investigator and chair of an
Indigenous Steering Group for the greater Darwin Region Type Two
Diabetes Project; and ten years as a member of the Menzies School of
Health Research/Royal Darwin Hospital Joint Institutional Ethics
Committee and the Indigenous Sub-committee. Ms Dunbar served on the
Australian Health Ethics Committee in the 2003-2006 triennium.

Father Gerald Gleeson is Professor of Philosophy at
the Catholic Institute of Sydney, a Research Associate at the Plunkett
Centre for Ethics in Health Care at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, and
a member of the National Board of the Sisters of Charity Health
Service. His interests include moral philosophy, philosophical
anthropology and philosophical theology, in particular, the philosophy
of the human person. Recent publications include papers on life
sustaining treatments and vegetative states, and on assisted
reproductive technology. Father Gleeson is a former member of the
Australian Health Ethics Committee’s Transplantation Ethics Working

Professor Paul Griffiths is an Australian Research
Council Fellow and Professor of Philosophy in the Biohumanities Project
at the University of Queensland. Professor Griffiths studied at
Cambridge and the Research School of Social Sciences, ANU. Previous
appointments include at Otago University in New Zealand, as director of
the Unit for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of
Sydney and a professorship in the Department of History and Philosophy
of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. Professor Griffiths is an
Affililiate Professorial Research Fellow in the Institute for Molecular
Bioscience, annual Visiting Professor in the ESRC Centre for Genomics
in Society at the University of Exeter, and an adjunct member of the
Pittsburgh HPS faculty.

Mr Barry Maley is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for
Independent Studies and former Director of the ‘Taking Children
Seriously’ research program. Previous appointments include as senior
lecturer in Behavioural Science at the University of New South Wales.
His interests include family and social policy, schooling, children’s
rights, family law, fertility, children and welfare.

Professor Margaret O’Connor is the inaugural appointee
to the Vivian Bullwinkel Chair in Nursing, Palliative Care, at Monash
University. In 2005 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia
(AM) for services to the development of palliative care services in
Victoria. This followed the receipt of the Nina Buscombe Award from the
Motor Neurone Disease Association of Victoria in 2003. Professor
O’Connor has extensive expertise in service delivery models, well
established relationships with palliative care services and an
understanding of research issues in clinical environments.

yes. Dr Gregory Pike is the director of the Southern Cross
Bioethics Institute in Adelaide, chairman of the board of the
Australian Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Programme Inc., a board
member of Drugwatch Australia and a member of The Institute on Global
Drug Policy. He has extensive research experience in neurobiology and
membrane biophysics and in the rapidly developing field of laparoscopic
surgery. He now focuses on bioethics with a particular emphasis on the
influence of bioethics on public policy development. He has a broad
interest in ethical issues related to new technologies in the health
sciences, particularly reproductive sciences and genetics.

While embryonic stem
cells are extremely versatile cells, adult stem cells may be similarly
potent. Their use does not raise the
immediate ethical dilemmas posed by the use of ES cells …

In summary, there is no shortage of
interesting research being conducted on adult stem cells, and no shortage of
promising findings, some already drawing close to trials in humans. What’s more, biotechnology companies
worldwide are investing more time and money in adult stem cells than ES cells,
suggesting that there are many in the industry who consider adult stem cells
the better way to go. – paper by Pike on Adult Stem Cells
Southern Cross Bioethics Institute

The Status of the Embryo in Church History

Current excitement in the scientific
community about the use of human embryonic stem cells (ES cells) coupled with
so-called therapeutic cloninghas reignited the debate about experimentation using human embryos, and in
doing so prompted a re-examination of our understanding of their moral
status. Deliberations such as these must
naturally cause us to reflect upon abortion, in that human embryos are likewise
destroyed in that act…

Prior to the scientific era, abortion
was the only practice in which human embryos and fetuses were manipulated in
any way. It is, therefore, important to
review the scientific, moral and philosophical considerations that fuelled
opposition to or support for abortion to see what light can be shed on our
contemporary understanding of the moral status of the human embryo. In the West, the Catholic Church is the
source of the major institutional condemnation of abortion and any process by
which human embryos are destroyed.
Because those moral positions are of such long-standing, it is natural
that they should be subject to close scrutiny on a continuous basis.

I am not a Catholic. But like any other scholar involved in
bioethical research and reflection I recognise that one must give a fair and
accurate account of the Catholic teaching involved before subjecting that
teaching to a critique. Which is why it
is disturbing to find recent commentaries in the scientific and ethics
literature misrepresenting the Catholic Church’s historical position on
abortion, and the considerations that have influenced the Church’s gradual
refinements of its position, and then suggesting that the Church has been
inconsistent in what it has been saying about the moral status of the human

In summary,
the position of the early Christian Church on the status of the embryo, and its
due protection, is all too clear.
Unfortunately, where this clarity is misrepresented and the early Church
made to look relativistic in its opinion, weight is added to a point of view
that devalues embryonic and fetal life to the extent that the destruction of
nascent human life is justified in the name of science and medical advance.

The Southern Cross Bioethics Institute adheres to universal human
values, human rights, and the laws of humanity, including the
inviolable and inalienable right to life of every member of the human
family, whatever the age, status or ability of that member, from
conception to natural death.

Professor Peter Sainsbury is an Adjunct Associate
Professor at the University of Sydney in public and community health.
Professor Sainsbury chairs the NSW Health, Health Survey Program
Steering Committee, and is the director of Population Health for the
Sydney South West Area Health Service. His interests include: the
associations between social relationships (social networks and social
support) and health and illness; experience of illness; health and
other social inequalities; community health needs assessment; health
policy; qualitative research and mental health promotion. Professor
Sainsbury served as a member of the National Health and Medical
Research Council in the 2003-2006 triennium.

Dr Marion Scarrabelotti is a clinical psychologist and
neuropsychologist in private practice with experience in psychology
research and post-graduate teaching (ANU). Dr Scarrabelotti has 20
years clinical experience and is currently a member of the National
Neuroscience Consultative Taskforce, Department of Health and Ageing.

Dr Nicholas Tonti-Filippini is an independent
consultant ethicist who has been a member of AHEC since July 2004. He
is lecturer in bioethics and sex education in the John Paul II
Institute for the Study of Marriage and Family in Melbourne and was
Australia’s first hospital ethicist. He was foundation director of the
bioethics department at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne (1982-90) and
involved in the drafting process for the Victorian Medical Treatment Act 1988-90 and the Victorian Infertility Treatment Act 1995. He contributed to the UNESCO Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights
and to the development of ethical guidelines for the care of the frail
aged and the terminally ill, and he is well-known internationally for
his contribution to bioethics. Dr Tonti-Filippini served on the
Australian Health Ethics Committee in the 2003-2006 triennium.

Dr Nikolajs Zeps is ethics manager of the Human
Research Ethics Committee (HREC) at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in
Perth and a researcher with the Western Australian Institute for
Medical Research Inc. He holds qualifications from the Universities of
London and Western Australia, and won the European Community Erasmus
Scholarship for Medical Research in 1991. His research interests
include cancer research, research governance and human tissue research.
He founded and developed tumour banking in Western Australia.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey