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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 particularly in the field of law and genetics. Professor Clayton’s scholarship currently focuses on the translation of genomics to clinical care, and she currently is co-principal investigator of two grants, one involving a transdisciplinary Center for Excellence in ELSI Research addressing genomic privacy and another 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 175 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. 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. 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

  • “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
  • "Why the Americans with Disabilities Act Matters for Genetics," 313 Journal of the American Medical Association 2225 (2015)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "How much control do children and adolescents have over genomic testing, parental access to their results, and parental communication of those results to others?" Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics (in press, 2015)
    Full Text | WWW
  • "Biospecimen Exceptionalism in the ANPRM," in I. Glenn Cohen and Holly Fernandez Lynch, Human Subjects Research Regulation: Perspectives on the Future, MIT Press (2014)
    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
  • "Can I Be Sued for That?  Liability Risk and the Disclosure of Clinically Significant Genetic Research Findings," 24 Genome Research 719 (2014) (with Amy L. McGuire, Bartha M. Knoppers and Ma’n H. Zawati)
  • "Seeking genomic knowledge: The case for clinical restraint," 64 Hastings Law Journal 1649 (2013) (with Wylie Burke and Susan Brown Trinidad)
    Full Text | PDF
  • "The Web of Relations: Thinking About Physicians and Patients," 6 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics 465 (2006)
    Full Text | HEIN
  • "What Should the Law Say About Disclosure of Genetic Information to Relatives," 1 Journal of Health Care Law & Policy 373 (1998)
    Full Text | PDF