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Bioethics Centre staff profile

Josephine Johnston

PositionLecturer
DepartmentBioethics Centre
QualificationsLLB(hons) MBHL
Research summaryEthical, legal, and policy implications of genetics, reproductive medicine, and neuroscience
TeachingBioethics, medical law, science policy, health policy

Research

Josephine Johnston works on a variety of ethical, legal, and policy issues in medicine and science, with a particular focus on the implications of emerging technologies in human reproduction, psychiatry, genetics, and neuroscience. She also teaches medical law and ethics to medical, dental, and pharmacy students and is conducting research on legal and policy issues related to the New Zealand government’s COVID-19 response.

A New Zealand-trained lawyer with a master’s degree in bioethics and health law from the University of Otago, Josephine worked as a grant-funded bioethics researcher in North America for twenty years. She held research positions at Dalhousie University in Canada and the University of Minnesota, USA, and taught bioethics and health law at Columbia University in New York. She has also worked as a lawyer in both New Zealand and Germany. In addition to her position at the University of Otago, Josephine is a Research Scholar at The Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institute in Garrison, New York.

Josephine’s scholarly work has appeared in medical, scientific, policy, law, and bioethics journals, including New England Journal of Medicine, Science, Nature, Hastings Center Report, and Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics. She is co-editor of Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing (Oxford University Press, 2019) and Trust and Integrity in Biomedical Research: The Case of Financial Conflicts of Interest (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010). Her public-facing commentaries have appeared in Stat News, The New Republic, Time, Washington Post, and The Scientist.

Publications

Johnston, J., & Matthews, L. J. (2022). Polygenic embryo testing: Understated ethics, unclear utility. Nature Medicine, 28, 446-448. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01743-0

Johnston, J. (2020). Shaping the CRISPR gene-editing debate: Questions about enhancement and germline modification. Perspectives in Biology & Medicine, 63(1), 141-154. doi: 10.1353/pbm.2020.0011

Johnston, J. (2020). Budgets versus bans: How U.S. law restricts germline gene editing [At law]. Hastings Center Report, 50(2), 4-5. doi: 10.1002/hast.1094

Takahashi, S., Johnston, J., & Patrizio, P. (2019). Lessons from the premature adoption of preimplantation embryo testing. Genetics in Medicine, 21(5), 1038-1040. doi: 10.1038/s41436-018-0314-z

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (Eds.). (2019). Human flourishing in an age of gene editing. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 240p. doi: 10.1093/oso/9780190940362.001.0001

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (Eds.). (2019). Human flourishing in an age of gene editing. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 240p. doi: 10.1093/oso/9780190940362.001.0001

Edited Book - Research

Murray, T. H., & Johnston, J. (Eds.). (2010). Trust and integrity in biomedical research: The case of financial conflicts of interest. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 267p.

Edited Book - Research

Johnston, J. (2019). "Good parents" can promote their own and their children's flourishing. In E. Parens & J. Johnston (Eds.), Human flourishing in an age of gene editing. (pp. 112-125). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oso/9780190940362.003.0009

Chapter in Book - Research

Johnston, J. (2017). Traumatic responsibility: Victor Frankenstein as creator and casualty. In D. H. Guston, E. Finn & J. S. Robert (Eds.), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Annotated for scientists, engineers, and creators of all kinds. (pp. 201-208). Cambridge, USA: MIT Press. doi: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262533287.003.0006

Chapter in Book - Research

Johnston, J., & Parens, E. (2015). Neuroethical issues in the diagnosis and treatment of children with mood and behavioral distrubances. In J. Clausen & N. Levy (Eds.), Handbook of neuroethics. (pp. 1673-1688). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4707-4_147

Chapter in Book - Research

Johnston, J., & Scheinerman, N. (2015). Protecting research, preserving trust: The importance of managing industry relationships in psychiatric research. In J. Z. Sadler, W. van Staden & K. W. M. Fulford (Eds.), Oxford handbook of psychiatric ethics (Vol. 1). (pp. 1026-1042). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198732372.013.12

Chapter in Book - Research

Johnston, J. (2011). US stem cell research policy. In A. Atala, R. Lanza, J. A. Thomson & R. Nerem (Eds.), Principles of regenerative medicine. (2nd ed.) (pp. 1131-1143). London, UK: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-012369410-2.50082-6

Chapter in Book - Research

Johnston, J. (2010). Financial conflicts of interest in biomedical research. In T. H. Murray & J. Johnston (Eds.), Trust and integrity in biomedical research: The case of financial conflicts of interest. (pp. 3-32). Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Davis, M., & Johnston, J. (2009). Conflict of interest in four professions: A comparative analysis. In B. Lo & M. J. Field (Eds.), Conflict of interest in medical research, education, and practice. (pp. 302-357). Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Miller, P. B., & Johnston, J. (2009). Consent and private liability in clinical research. In O. Corrigan, J. McMillan, K. Liddell, M. Richards & C. Weijer (Eds.), The limits of consent: A socio-ethical approach to human subject research in medicine. (pp. 39-56). Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199231461.003.0003

Chapter in Book - Research

Johnston, J. (2008). Conflict of interest in biomedical research. In M. Crowley (Ed.), From birth to death and bench to clinic: The Hastings Center bioethics briefing book for journalists, policymakers, and campaigns. (pp. 31-34). Garrison, NY: Hastings Center. Retrieved from https://www.thehastingscenter.org/briefingbook

Chapter in Book - Research

Johnston, J. (2008). Intellectual property and biomedicine. In M. Crowley (Ed.), From birth to death and bench to clinic: The Hastings Center bioethics briefing book for journalists, policymakers, and campaigns. (pp. 93-96). Garrison, NY: Hastings Center. Retrieved from https://www.thehastingscenter.org/briefingbook

Chapter in Book - Research

Johnston, J. (2008). US stem cell research policy. In A. Atala, R. Lanza, J. A. Thomson & R. M. Nerem (Eds.), Principles of regenerative medicine. (pp. 1354-1365). London, UK: Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-012369410-2.50082-6

Chapter in Book - Research

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (2008). Mental health in children and adolescents. In M. Crowley (Ed.), From birth to death and bench to clinic: The Hastings Center bioethics briefing book for journalists, policymakers, and campaigns. (pp. 101-106). Garrison, NY: Hastings Center. Retrieved from https://www.thehastingscenter.org/briefingbook

Chapter in Book - Research

Elliott, C., & Johnston, J. (2006). Bioethics: Practice. In Encyclopedia of life sciences (eLS). John Wiley & Sons. doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005892

Chapter in Book - Research

Elliott, C., & Johnston, J. (2009). Bioethics: Practice. In Encyclopedia of life sciences (eLS). John Wiley & Sons. doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005892.pub2

Chapter in Book - Other

Johnston, J. (2020). Shaping the CRISPR gene-editing debate: Questions about enhancement and germline modification. Perspectives in Biology & Medicine, 63(1), 141-154. doi: 10.1353/pbm.2020.0011

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J., Lantos, J. D., Goldenberg, A., Chen, F., Parens, E., Koenig, B. A., members of the NSIGHT Ethics and Policy Advisory Board. (2018). Sequencing newborns: A call for nuanced use of genomic technologies. Hastings Center Report, 48(Suppl. 2). doi: 10.1002/hast.874

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J., & Zacharias, R. L. (2017). The future of reproductive autonomy. Hastings Center Report, 47(Suppl. 3), S6-S11. doi: 10.1002/hast.789

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J., Banerjee, M. P., & Geller, G. (2015). Trustworthy research institutions: The challenging case of studying the genetics of intelligence. Hastings Center Report, 45(Suppl. 1), S59-S65. doi: 10.1002/hast.501

Journal - Research Article

Wasserman, D., & Johnston, J. (2014). Seeing responsibility: Can neuroimaging teach us anything about moral and legal responsibility. Hastings Center Report, 44(S2), S37-S49. doi: 10.1002/hast.297

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J., & Gusmano, M. K. (2013). Why we should all pay for fertility treatment: An argument from ethics and policy. Hastings Center Report, 43(2), 18-21. doi: 10.1002/hast.155

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J. (2012). Normalizing atypical genitalia: How a heated debate went astray. Hastings Center Report, 42(6), 32-44. doi: 10.1002/hast.82

Journal - Research Article

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (2011). Troubled children: Diagnosing, treating, and attending to context. Hastings Center Report, 41(Suppl. 2), S4-S31.

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J. (2007). Health related academic technology transfer: Rethinking patenting and licensing practices. International Journal of Biotechnology, 9(2), 156-171. doi: 10.1504/IJBT.2007.013049

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J. (2007). Tied up in nots over genetic parentage. Hastings Center Report, 37(4), 28-31. doi: 10.1353/hcr.2007.0055

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J., & Wasunna, A. A. (2007). Patents, biomedical research, and treatments: Examining concerns, canvassing solutions. Hastings Center Report, 37(Suppl. 1), S2-S35.

Journal - Research Article

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (2007). Does it make sense to speak of neuroethics? EMBO Reports, 8(Suppl. 1), S61-S64. doi: 10.1038/sj.embor.7400992

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J. (2006). Is research in Canada limited to "surplus" embryos? Health Law Review, 14(3), 3-13.

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J. (2006). Paying egg donors: Exploring the arguments. Hastings Center Report, 36(1), 28-31. doi: 10.1353/hcr.2006.0010

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J. (2005). Stem cell protocols: The NAS guidelines are a useful start. Hastings Center Report, 35(6), 16-17. doi: 10.1353/hcr.2005.0109

Journal - Research Article

Baylis, F., Beagan, B., Johnston, J., & Ram, N. (2003). Cryopreserved human embryos in Canada and their availability for research. Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology Canada, 25(12), 1026-1031. doi: 10.1016/S1701-2163(16)30344-9

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J. (2003). Resisting a genetic identity: The black seminoles and genetic tests of ancestry. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 31, 262-271.

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J., & Thomas, M. (2003). Summary: The science of genealogy by genetics. Developing World Bioethics, 3(2), 103-108. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-8731.2003.00064.x

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J. (2002). Mum's the word: Donor anonymity in assisted reproduction. Health Law Review, 11(1), 51-55.

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J. (2002). New rules for embryo research: Bill C-56 and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Stem Cell Research Guidelines. Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology Canada, 24(9), 722-726.

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J., & Elliott, C. (2002). Healthy limb amputation: Ethical and legal aspects. Clinical Medicine, 2(5), 431-435. doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.2-5-431

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J. (2001). Are sex selective abortions wrong? New Zealand Bioethics Journal, 2, 9-16.

Journal - Research Article

Johnston, J., & Matthews, L. J. (2022). Polygenic embryo testing: Understated ethics, unclear utility. Nature Medicine, 28, 446-448. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01743-0

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2020). Budgets versus bans: How U.S. law restricts germline gene editing [At law]. Hastings Center Report, 50(2), 4-5. doi: 10.1002/hast.1094

Journal - Research Other

de Graeff, N., Jongsma, K. R., Johnston, J., Hartley, S., & Bredenoord, A. L. (2019). The ethics of genome editing in non-human animals: A systematic review of reasons reported in the academic literature. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 374, 20180106. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2018.0106

Journal - Research Other

Takahashi, S., Johnston, J., & Patrizio, P. (2019). Lessons from the premature adoption of preimplantation embryo testing. Genetics in Medicine, 21(5), 1038-1040. doi: 10.1038/s41436-018-0314-z

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J., & Juengst, E. (2018). Are parents really obligated to learn as much as possible about their children's genomes? Hastings Center Report, 48(Suppl. 2), S14-S15. doi: 10.1002/hast.877

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J., Farrell, R. M., & Parens, E. (2017). Supporting women's autonomy in prenatal testing. New England Journal of Medicine, 377(6), 505-507. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1703425

Journal - Research Other

King, L. P., Zacharias, R. L., & Johnston, J. (2017). Autonomy in tension: Reproduction, technology, and justice [Introduction]. Hastings Center Report, 47(Suppl. 3), S2-S5. doi: 10.1002/hast.788

Journal - Research Other

Hyun, I., Wilkerson, A., & Johnston, J. (2016). Embryology policy: Revisit the 14-day rule. Nature, 533, 169-171. doi: 10.1038/533169a

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J., Gusmano, M. K., & Patrizio, P. (2015). In search of real autonomy for fertility patients. Health Economics, Policy & Law, 10(3), 243-250. doi: 10.1017/S1744133114000164

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J., Gusmano, M. K., & Patrizio, P. (2014). Preterm births, multiples, and fertility treatment: Recommendations for changes to policy and clinical practices. Fertility & Sterility, 102(1), 36-39. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2014.03.019

Journal - Research Other

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (2014). Neuroimaging: Beginning to appreciate its complexities. Hastings Center Report, 44(S2), S2-S7. doi: 10.1002/hast.293

Journal - Research Other

Wilkerson, A., Wongsatittham, K., & Johnston, J. (2013). The NIH Stem Cell Registry: An absence of gamete donor consent. Cell Stem Cell, 12, 147-148. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2013.01.002

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2010). America's stem cell mess [Thought experiment]. Scientist, 24(10), 33-34. [Commentary].

Journal - Research Other

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (2010). Controversies concerning the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder in children. Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Mental Health, 4, 9. doi: 10.1186/1753-2000-4-9

Journal - Research Other

Parens, E., Johnston, J., & Carlson, G. A. (2010). Pediatric mental health care dysfunction disorder? New England Journal of Medicine, 362(20), 1853-1855. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1003175

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2009). Judging octomom. Hastings Center Report, 39(3), 23-25. doi: 10.1353/hcr.0.0133

Journal - Research Other

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (2009). Facts, values, and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): An update on the controversies. Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Mental Health, 3, 1. doi: 10.1186/1753-2000-3-1

Journal - Research Other

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (2008). Understanding the agreements and controversies surrounding childhood psychopharmacology. Child & Adolescent Psychiatry & Mental Health, 2, 5. doi: 10.1186/1753-2000-2-5

Journal - Research Other

Parens, E., & Johnston, J. (2008). Understanding the agreements and controversies surrounding childhood psychopharmacology. Focus: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry, 6(3), 322, 330. doi: 10.1176/foc.6.3.foc322

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J., & Wasunna, A. A. (2007). Introduction [Special issue: Biomedicine, patents, and access]. International Journal of Biotechnology, 9(2), 101-104. [Editorial].

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2006). [Review of the book Bioethics and the new embryology]. Quarterly Review of Biology, 81(2), 160-161. doi: 10.1086/506036

Journal - Research Other

Reid, L., Johnston, J., & Baylis, F. (2006). From the special issue editors [Special issue: Ethics and stem cell research: Shifting the discourse]. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 3(1-2), 11-13. doi: 10.1007/s11673-006-9008-3

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2005). [Review of the book Stem cell research]. Amyloid, 12(4), 263. doi: 10.1080/13506120500352560

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2005). [Review of the book The second tree]. Quarterly Review of Biology, 80(2), 230-231. doi: 10.1086/433068

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2004). ES cell research: In the shadow of the ban. Hastings Center Report, 34(2), 48. doi: 10.2307/3527687

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2004). Gene therapy: Two steps forward, one step back [Analysis]. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 170(12), 1785-1786. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.1031262

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2004). When money talks and science listens [Review of the books The truth about the drug companies and Science in the private interest]. Hastings Center Report, 34(5), 44-45. doi: 10.2307/3527592

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2003). [Review of the book Human cloning and human dignity]. Quarterly Review of Biology, 78(3), 347. doi: 10.1086/433068

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2003). Case study: The Lemba. Developing World Bioethics, 3(2), 109-111. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-8731.2003.00065.x

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J., & Eliot, C. (2003). Chimeras and "human dignity". American Journal of Bioethics, 3(3), 6-8. doi: 10.1162/15265160360706714

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J., & Elliott, C. (2003). From the guest editors. Developing World Bioethics, 3(2), iii-iv. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-8731.2003.00063.x

Journal - Research Other

Johnston, J. (2002). Just your roots are showing [In brief]. Hastings Center Report, 32(6), 6. [Commentary].

Journal - Research Other

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