Ellen Wright Clayton

Craig-Weaver Professor of Pediatrics
Professor of Law

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 co-founded the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society. She has published two books and more than 150 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 and the world on interdisciplinary research projects, and helped to develop policy statements for numerous national and international organizations. 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. Professor Clayton has worked on a number of projects for the Institute of Medicine, of which she is a member of its National Advisory Council, its report review committee, and was chair of its committee to define myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. She also coordinated the Consent and Community Consultation working group of a five-institution consortium exploring the use of electronic medical records for genome-wide association studies. She is an elected Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.

Research Interests

Ethical, legal, and social issues in genomics research and in translating genomics into the clinic

Representative Publications

  • "The Legal Risks of Returning Results of Genomics Research," 14:4 Genetics in Medicine 473 (2012) (with Amy L. McGuire)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Managing Incidental Genomic Findings: Legal Obligations of Clinicians," Genetics in Medicine (Epub ahead of print, 2013) (with Susanne Haga, Patricia Kuszler, Emily Bane, Krysta Shutske and Wylie Burke)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Seeking Genomic Knowledge: The Case for Clinical Restraint," 64 Hastings Law Journal 1649 (2013) (with Wylie Burke and Susan Brown Trinidad)
    Full Text | WWW | PDF
  • "Two Large-Scale Surveys on Community Attitudes Toward an Opt-Out Biobank,” 155:12 American Journal of Medical Genetics 2982 (2011) (with Kyle Brothers and Daniel R. Morrison)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "The Legal Risks of Returning Results of Genomics Research," 2012 Genetics in Medicine (with Amy L. McGuire)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Return of Individual Research Results from Genome-Wide Association Studies: Experience of the Electronic Medical Records & Genomics (eMERGE) Network," in  Genetics in Medicine (2012) (with Stephanie M. Fullerton, Wendy A. Wolf, Kyle B. Brothers, Dana C. Crawford, Joshua C. Denny, Philip Greenland, Barbara A. Koenig, Kathleen A. Leppig, Noralane M. Lindor, Catherine A. McCarty, Amy L. McGuire, Eugenia R. McPeek Hinz, Daniel B. Mirel, Erin M. Ramos, Marylyn D. Ritchie, Maureen E. Smith, Carol J. Waudby, Wylie Burke, Gail P. Jarvik)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Ethical and Practical Challenges of Sharing Data from Genome-Wide Association Studies: The eMERGE Consortium Experience," 21:7 Genome Research 1001 (2011) (with Amy L. McGuire, Melissa Basford, Lynn G. Dressler, Stephanie M. Fullerton, Barbara A. Koenig, Rongling Li, Cathy A. McCarty, Erin Ramos, Maureen E. Smith, Carol P. Somkin, Carol Waudby and Wendy A. Wolf)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "False Positive Screening Results Are Not Always Benign," Public Health Genomics 2011; 14(3): 173-177 PMID: 21178328 (with Daniel R. Morrison)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "State Run Newborn Screening in the Genomic Era, or How to Avoid Drowning When Drinking From a Fire Hose," Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 2010 Sep; 38(3):697-700 PMID: 20880251
    Full Text | WWW

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Contact Information

(615) 322-2598 (voice)
(615) 322-6631 (fax)
Room 273 (office)

Curriculum Vitae



M.D. Harvard University
J.D. Yale University
M.S. Stanford University
B.S. Duke University