I completed my undergraduate degrees in Pharmacology and Law at Otago. As part of my undergraduate program, I undertook a Supervised Research Paper with Professor Nicola Peart which I found to be both challenging and incredibly fulfilling. My time working on the undergraduate paper was the catalyst for my decision to undertake a Master’s degree and pursue a full year of research.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading for my LLM at Otago. It was an easy choice: the support from the Law Faculty has always been generous; Dunedin is a great place to live and adventure from; and my supervisor was the Director of the New Zealand Law Foundation Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies. Under the supervision of Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan, I completed my thesis on the laws of privacy and consent in biobanking in New Zealand.
As an emerging and rapidly evolving field, quite a bit of research has been undertaken into the different aspects of large-scale biobanking. However, this type of population database remains fraught with significant ethical, legal and social implications that few countries have successfully overcome.
My background research involved a close look at the traditional ethical standards of research that biobanking challenges, such as the established and widely-accepted norms of privacy and informed consent. My thesis examined the current privacy and consent laws in New Zealand and the adequacy of these laws to protect the interests of biobank participants. My particular focus on New Zealand law also took into consideration the obligation of the Crown to protect Maori interests and I discussed how these obligations may impact on future policy involving genetic material in biobanking.
During the year, I experienced loss in my family and also planned a wedding — both stressful times that challenged my priorities and left me doubtful of my plans. However, I received much encouragement from Colin and Jess Palmer, the Postgrad Coordinator, who were very supportive and accommodating of my needs. My LLM experience was a challenging but an immensely fulfilling one and I am thankful for the many skills I have learned.