We wish to add our congratulations to two recipients of honours on Australia Day who have made important contributions to human research ethics in Australia over the last 35 years.
Distinguished Prof. Don Chalmers was chair of the Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) from 1994 to 2000. During this time he, together with Regis Mary Dunne AO, conducted a national review of the role and functioning of institutional ethics committees which led directly to the first National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans in 1999.
The 1999 National Statement replaced the 1966 NHMRC one-page Statement on Human Experimentation to which numerous supplementary notes had been added across three decades. The 1999 document was a significant landmark in human research ethics in Australia, not only because it brought that NHMRC history together but also because it was endorsed by the Australian Vice-Chancellor’s Committee, the Australian Research Council. The Australian Academies of the Humanities, Science and Social Sciences also endorsed the Statement and it was supported by the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. As a member of AHEC in 1998-99, I remember how Don led these initiatives and negotiations with characteristic diplomacy, tact and good humour.
Don has made important contributions to genetic and genomic research through the Centre for Law and Genetics at the University of Tasmania and to genomic screening and research through his membership of national working groups.
The national recognition of becoming an Officer of the Order of Australia is a fitting addition to his receipt of the NHMRC Ethics Award in 2010.
Prof. John McNeil, who had received an AM in 2008, was also appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia. Although his contributions have been primarily in clinical epidemiology, cardiovascular research and public health, the award also recognises his chairing of the human research ethics committee of the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne for 30 years. I had the privilege of attending the committee’s meetings on several occasions and recognised the skill and experience that he brought to that role.
John’s commitment to the value of clinical registers was influential in his strong support for the introduction of an opt-out approach to Chapter 2.3 of the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research in 2014.
This post may be cited as:
Thomson, C. (25 January 2019) Australia Day honours recognise contributions to human research ethics. Research Ethics Monthly. Retrieved from: https://ahrecs.com/human-research-ethics/australia-day-honours-recognise-contributions-to-human-research-ethics