Body ownership and research

Rebekah Mcwhirter, D Nicol, Don Chalmers, Joanne Dickinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article questions whether recognition of property rights in human tissue .would enhance protection of the interests of donors of tissue used for research purposes. Best practice already obliges researchers to comply with a range of legal and ethical obligations, with particular focus on informed consent and research transparency. A number of lawsuits relating to research use of human tissue emphasise the central importance of informed consent to donors. Informed consent of communities, as well as individuals, becomes essential when engaging in research with indigenous peoples. Increasingly genetic researchers are adopting participatory governance as a model for working with communities to develop culturally appropriate genetic studies that address health problems that are priorities for the communities involved. The transparency of the participatory governance model means that participants feel that their autonomy is respected and that their interests are being represented throughout the research process. The question of ownership of samples becomes irrelevant as control is codified through alternative mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Law and Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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