Medical Research: Why People Choose Not to Know

Ellen Wright Clayton
Nashville, TN

Health & Medical Justice & Law


Ellen Wright Clayton
Prof. of Pediatrics, Prof. of Law
Ellen Wright Clayton, a world renown expert in the area of law and medicine, is based at Vanderbilt University. Among the many topics she can discuss are genetics, children's health care, the ethics of using humans in scientific research and biomedical ethics in general. Additionally Ellen serves as the committee chair at the Institute of Medicine.
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Nashville, TN 37203
United States
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Ellen Wright Clayton is an internationally respected leader in the field of law and genetics who holds appointments in both the law and medical schools at Vanderbilt, where she also directs the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society

She has published two books and more than 80 scholarly articles and chapters in medical journals, interdisciplinary journals and law journals on the intersection of law, medicine and public health. In addition, she has collaborated with faculty and students throughout Vanderbilt and in many institutions around the country on interdisciplinary research projects.

An active participant in policy debates, she has advised the National Institutes of Health as well as other federal and international bodies on an array of topics ranging from children's health to the ethical conduct of research involving human subjects. She is currently a member of the National Advisory Committee for the National Children’s Study.

Professor Clayton had worked on a number of projects for the Institute of Medicine, of which she is a member, and is currently chairing an IOM study evaluating vaccine safety. She is also coordinating the Consent and Community Consultation working group of a five-institution consortium exploring the use of electronic medical records for genome-wide association studies.

Over the course of her career, she has helped to develop policy statements for numerous national and international organizations.

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U.S.-mandated report finds vaccines safe for kids
An exhaustive new report from experts at the Institute of Medicine finds that children's vaccines are typically safe, with bad reactions occurring only rarely and then not causing any lasting medical problems.
Recent Publications/Appearances


March 29, 2013 NPR "Number Of Early Childhood Vaccines Not Linked To Autism"

March 22, 2012 "Biobanks Asked to Help Deliver Bad (Genetic) News"

October 6, 2011 CBS News "Asperger's syndrome in spotlight as South Park spoofs vaccine fears"

August, 29 2011 KATV "U.S.-mandated report finds vaccines safe for kids"

August 25, 2011 Reuters "Vaccines largely safe, U.S. expert panel finds"

July 26, 2011 The Wall Street Journal "New Tests for Newborns, And Dilemmas for Parents"

Feb 28, 2011 "Interpreting your genetics test results: No easy feat"


August 25, 2011 The Institute of Medicine - To Release Adverse Events of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality 8/25


“Incidental Findings in Genetics Research Using Archived DNA,” 36 Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 286 (2008)

“Development of a Large-Scale Deidentified DNA Biobank to Enable Personalized Medicine,” 84 Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 362 (2008) (with D. Roden, J. Pulley, M. Basford, G. Bernard, J. Balser & D. Masys)

 "Integrating Genetics into Public Health Policy and Practice," in Law in Public Health Practice, 2d ed., New York: Oxford University Press 323-337 (2007) (Richard A. Goodman & Karen Foster, editors)

 "Genetics, Populations, and Public Health: A Complex Relationship," 30 Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 290-7 (2002). Reprinted in Public Health Ethics: Theory, Policy, and Practice, Oxford-New York (2006)

"Patients and Biobanks," 51(4) Villanova Law Review 793 (2006)

"The Web of Relations: Thinking about Physicians and Patients," 6 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics 2:465-477 (2006)

"Informed Consent and Biobanks," 33 Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics  15-21 (2005)

"Ethical, Legal, and Social Implication of Genomic Medicine," 349 New England Journal of Medicine  562-9 (2003). Reprinted in Genomic Medicine, Johns Hopkins (2004) (Alan E. Guttmacher, Francis S. Collins & Jeffrey M. Drazen, eds.)

"Policy Challenges: Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of Genetics," in Genetics and Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Study, St. Louis University Press (Gerald Magill, ed., 2003)


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