Human Body and Biomaterial Regulation

Advances in biotechnology have changed the way we value and conceptualise the human body and biomaterials, the latter becoming a highly sought-after resource for corporations, governments, researchers, healthcare institutions, and individuals.

Female scientist in lab

The enormous value of biomaterials is reflected in the many different forms of biorepositories that have proliferated around the globe. Biomaterials are stored and used, for example, in research, diagnosis, assisted reproduction, blood banking, anatomical instruction, forensics, and direct-to-consumer genetic testing. At the same time, genetic technologies are advancing, with the potential for biomaterials to identify individuals and reveal personal information. Striking an appropriate balance between individual and institutional interests in biomaterials has therefore become a pressing regulatory issue. 

Against the backdrop of advancing biotechnologies, this project therefore tackles the complex issue of human biomaterial regulation, examining a range of contexts, including organ and tissue donation and transplantation, assisted reproduction, medical treatment and diagnosis, and biomedical research. This research spans many areas of law, including statutory frameworks, professional and research ethics guidelines, and common law areas such as property, privacy, and torts. As biomaterial regulation impacts many different actors, and as the regulatory challenges arising from biotechnological advancements are global in scope, the work completed under this project is international and inter-disciplinary in nature, with collaborations with clinicians, biotechnological researchers, bioethicists, social scientists, and patient partners from around the world.

Project outputs

  • Peer-reviewed journal articles

    • Maeghan Toews, Jennifer Chandler, Thaddeus Pope, Roger Pape, Matthew Weiss, Alberto Sandiumenge, “Legislation and Policy Recommendations on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation From an International Consensus Forum” Transplantation Direct (2023) 9(5) Transplantation Direct e1395, doi: 10.1097/TXD.0000000000001395 (corresponding author)
    • Alessandro Marcon, Timothy Caulfield, Maeghan Toews, “Public Solicitation & The Canadian Media: Two Cases, Two Different Stories” (2019) 5(12) Transplantation Direct, doi: 10.1097/TXD.0000000000000950
    • Georgia Smith, Diba Gujari, Oscar Russell, Lyle Palmer, Maeghan Toews, Germaine Wong, Wai Lim, Stephen McDonald, Phillip Clayton, Dominique Martin, Patrick T Coates, “International Travel by Australians for Overseas Transplantation” (2019) 211 (10) Med J Aust, doi: 10.5694/mja2.50333
    • Ubaka Ogbogu, Amy Zarzeczny, Jay Baltz, Patrick Bedford, Jenny Du, Insoo Hyun, Yasmeen Jaafar, Andrea Jurisicova, Erika Kleiderman, Yonida Koukio, Bartha Mario Knoppers, Arthur Leader, Zubin Master, Minh Thu Nguyen, Forough Noohi, Vardit Ravitsky, Maeghan Toews, “Research on Human Embryos and Reproductive Materials: Revisiting Canadian Law and Policy” (2018) 13(3) Healthcare Policy 10-19
    • Samantha Anthony, Maeghan Toews, Timothy Caulfield, Linda Wright, “Family Veto in Organ Donation in Canada: Framing within English-Language Newspaper Articles” (2017) 5(4) CMAJOpen E768-E772, doi:10.9778/cmajo.20170051
    • Maeghan Toews, Mark Giancaspro, Bernadette Richards, Paolo Ferrari, “Kidney Paired Donation and the ‘Valuable Consideration’ Problem: The Experiences of Australia, Canada and the United States” (2017) 101(9) Transplantation 1996-2002
    • John Gill, Kathryn Tinckam, Marie-Chantal Fortin, Caren Rose, Kara Schick-Makaroff, Kimberly Young, Julie Lesage, Edward Cole, Maeghan Toews, David Landsberg, Jagbir Gill, “Reciprocity to Increase Participation of Compatible Living Donor and Recipient Pairs in Kidney Paired Donation” (2017) 17 American Journal of Transplantation 1723-28
    • Alissa J Wright, Caren Rose, Maeghan Toews, Michel Paquet, Daniel Corsill, Jean-François LeCailhier, John S Gill, “An Exception to the Rule or a Rule for the Exception? The Potential of Using HIV_Positive Donors in Canada” (2017) 101(4) Transplantation 671-74
  • Book chapters

    Maeghan Toews, “Organ and Tissue Donation” in Ben White, Fiona McDonald, and Lindy Willmott (eds), Health Law in Australia, 3rd ed (2018: Thomson Reuters)

  • Policy articles and commentary

    • Maeghan Toews, “Increasing Organ Donation: What’s Legal and What’s Not?” (2017) 39(11) Bulletin (Law Society of South Australia) 18
    • Maeghan Toews, “Fast Facts: Opt-out Consent for Organ Donation” Canadian National Transplant Research Program (7 February 2017), online:
  • Academic conferences and workshops

    • “Evaluating the Strength of Australian Donation and Transplantation Law against International Legal Norms”, Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) Annual Scientific Meeting, Brisbane, 17-20 June 2023
    • “Regulating Biomaterials in the Age of Datafied Bodies: Reforming the Discourse”, Australasian Association of Bioethics & Health Law Annual Conference, 20 November 2021 (online)
    • “Legal Foundations: Recommendations for Donation & Transplantation Legislation”, International Donation and Transplantation Legislative Policy Forum, Transplant Quebec, Montreal, 14-15 October 2021 (online)
    • “Media Representations of Public Solicitation for Organ Donors”, Key Policy Issues in Organ Donation & Transplantation, University of Ottawa, 17-18 June 2021 (online)
    • “Public Solicitation of Living Donors”, Ethical Issues in Donation and Transplantation – Professional Education Symposium, Deakin University, Melbourne, 27 October 2017 (Session Chair)
    • “Overcoming the ‘Valuable Consideration’ Problem in Kidney Paired Donation: The Experiences in Australia, Canada, and the United States” Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) Annual Scientific Meeting, Brisbane, May 8, 2017
  • Professional meetings and events

    • “Law of the Body: A New Body of Law?” University of Macau: Law, Ethics and Technology Studies Research Circle, Macau, China, 25 September 2019
    • “The Law of Buying, Selling, and Trafficking Human Organs” Australian Medical Students Society EdForum: Organ Trafficking: Would You Sell Your Kidney?, Adelaide, August 22, 2018
    • “Organ Donation in the Public Eye: Donor Solicitation in the Media” Royal Adelaide Hospital, Renal Unit, Adelaide, 14 November 2017
    • “Organ Donation: Legal Controversies and Conundrums” University of Adelaide Law School, Continuing Professional Development Program, Adelaide, June 14, 2017