Colin was professor at the University of Wollongong and Academic Leader for Health Law and Ethics in the Graduate School of Medicine. He served as a member of the Medical Research Ethics Committee of the NHMRC (1987-91), and the member with expertise in law of Australian Health Ethics Committee, a principal committee of the NHMRC (1997-2002). He was the NHMRC consultant in health ethics (2002-06) and was Chair of the Australian Health Ethics Committee from 2006-09 and was closely involved in the drafting of the National Statement on Ethics Conduct in Human Research (2007). He is an inaugural member of the NHMRC’s Harmonisation of Multi-Centre Ethical Review assessment team. He has served as Vice President of the Australasian Bioethics Association, and Chair and Executive Officer of the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Health, Law and Ethics.
He has been a member (and chair of four) of the human research ethics committees at the Australian National University, the Australian Capital Territory Board of Health, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the University of Wollongong, CSIRO, the Department of Health (Commonwealth) and the Departments of Defence and Veterans Affairs. He currently chairs the social science human research ethics committee of the CSIRO.
Colin has worked as a consultant for the NHMRC, FaHCSIA, the Health Departments of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, the NSW Department of Community Services and the Cancer Council New South Wales. His work with the NHMRC included providing advice on the establishment of research ethics review system in Mauritius and designing and conducting a national human research ethics training program in Australia in 2004-05. Colin has provided advice and training to numerous human research ethics committees in Australia.
He has also chaired an independent external research misconduct inquiry for a leading Australian university.
In June 2018, he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to medical research, particularly research ethics, education and professional associations.
In the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Colin Thomson was recognised with an award of Member of the Order of Australia.