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Ellen Wright Clayton

Craig-Weaver Professor of Pediatrics
Professor of Law
Professor of Health Policy

Ellen Wright Clayton is an internationally respected leader in the field of health law, focusing on the conduct of genomics research and its translation to clinical care while protecting the interests of patients and communities. She is currently co-principal investigator of a transdisciplinary Center for Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research addressing genomic privacy and recently completed another ESLI project analyzing legal issues in liability, quality, privacy and access, and the clinical-research interface, all with the goal of developing more effective solutions. She has published two books and more than 200 scholarly articles and chapters in medical journals, interdisciplinary journals and law journals on the intersection of law, medicine and public health. She has also 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 and other federal and international bodies on an array of topics ranging from children's health to the ethical conduct of research involving human subjects. Her teaching interests include law and genomics, bioethics and law, reproductive rights, and public health and research ethics. Professor Clayton has worked on numerous projects for the National Academy of Medicine, including serving as a member of its Advisory Council and chair of the Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice. She is currently co-chair of the Report Review Committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, in that role supervising the Academies’ work on COVID-19. 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

  • "Does the Law Require Reinterpretation and Return of Revised Genomic Results?" Genetics in Medicine epub (2021) (with Paul S. Appelbaum, Wendy K. Chung, Gary E. Marchant and Jessica L. Roberts)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "What Results Should Be Returned from Opportunistic Screening in Translational Research?" 10 Journal of Personalized Medicine 13 (2020) (with Colin Halverson, Sarah Jones, Laurie Novak, Chris Simpson, Digna Velez Edwards and Kathy Zhao)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "How Can Law and Policy Advance Quality in Genomic Analysis and Interpretation for Clinical Care?" 48 Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 44 (2020) (with Barbara J. Evans, Gail Javitt, Ralph Hull, Megan Robertson, Pilar Ossorio, Susan M. Wolf and Thomas Morgan for the LawSeqTM Quality Working Group)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "The Law of Genetic Privacy: Applications, Implications and Limitations," Journal of Law and the Biosciences 1 (2019) (with Barbara J. Evans, James W. Hazel and Mark A. Rothstein)
    Full Text | SSRN | HEIN | WWW
  • “A Systematic Literature Review of Individuals’ Perspectives on Privacy and Genetic Information in the United States,” 13(10) PLoS ONE (2018) (with Colin M. Halverson, Nila A. Sathe and Bradley A. Malin)
    Full Text | WWW
  • “Is it Time for a Universal Genetic Forensic Database?” 362 Science 898 (2018) (with James W. Hazel, Bradley A. Malin and Christopher Slobogin)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Public Attitudes Towards Consent and Data Sharing in Biobank Research: A Large Multi-site Experimental Survey in the U.S.," 100 American Journal of Human Genetics 414 (2017) (with Saskia C. Sanderson, Kyle B. Brothers, Nathaniel D. Mercaldo, Armand H. Matheny Antommaria, Sharon A. Aufox, Murray H. Brilliant, Diego Campos, David S. Carrell, John Connolly, Pat Conway, Stephanie M. Fullerton, Nanibaa’ A. Garrison, Carol R. Horowitz, Gail P. Jarvik, David Kaufman, Terrie E. Kitchner, Rongling Li, Evette J. Ludman, Catherine A. McCarty, Jennifer B. McCormick, Valerie D. McManus, Melanie F. Myers, Aaron Scrol, Janet L. Williams, Martha J. Shrubsole, Jonathan S. Schildcrout, Maureen E. Smith and Ingrid A. Holm)
  • "How Much Control Do Children and Adolescents Have Over Genomic Testing, Parental Access to Their Results, and Parental Communication of Those Results to Others?" 43 Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 538 (2015)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Addressing the Ethical Challenges in Genetic Testing and Sequencing of Children," 14 American Journal of Bioethics 3 (2014) (with Laurence B. McCullough, Leslie G. Biesecker, Steven Joffe, Lainie Friedman Ross and Susan M. Wolf)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "The Web of Relations: Thinking About Physicians and Patients," 6 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics 465 (2006)
    Full Text | HEIN