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Contact Details

+64 3 471 6123
Associate Professor
Bioethics Centre
LLB(hons) MBHL
Research summary
Ethical, legal, and policy implications of genetics, reproductive medicine, and neuroscience
Bioethics, medical law, science policy, health policy


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.


Johnston, J. (2023). When less is more: Lessons for expanded carrier screening from newborn sequencing research. American Journal of Bioethics, 23(7), 118-120. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2023.2210037 Journal - Research Other

Lee, S. S.-J., Caruncho, M., Chung, W. K., Johnston, J., Tabb, K., & Appelbaum, P. S. (2023). Individualized interventions for rare genetic conditions and the research-treatment spectrum: Stakeholder perspectives. Genetics in Medicine, 25(6), 100832. doi: 10.1016/j.gim.2023.100832 Journal - Research Article

Hyun, I. & Johnston, J. (2023, February). Should we change "Chimeric" human-animal research? The Hastings Center webinar. Retrieved from Other Research Output

Johnston, J. M. & Hyun, I. (2022, September). Chimeras (but don't call them chimeras): An introduction to the ethics and policy debate. Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R) webinar. [Research Presentation]. Other Research Output

Hyun, I., & Johnston, J. M. (2022, December). Clarifying the ethics and oversight of chimeric research. Workshop presentation at the Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R) Annual Conference, [Online]. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

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