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Director in Emerging Technologies named

Sun striking the Clocktower

Tuesday 1 December 2009 3:05pm

Leading international scholar in medical law and ethics Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan will be the first New Zealand Law Foundation–sponsored Director in Emerging Technologies at the University of Otago Faculty of Law.

Dr Gavaghan, who until now has held the position of Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics at the University of Glasgow's School of Law, will head the newly-established Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies, the only New Zealand-based research centre that will examine the legal, ethical and policy issues around new technologies. These include biotechnology, nanotechnology, alternative bio-energy, information and communication technologies, robotics and artificial intelligence.

The position was established under the University of Otago's Leading Thinkers Initiative, supported by an endowment from the Law Foundation.

Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says the University is pleased to appoint someone of Dr Gavaghan's calibre as the new Director.

"Much of Dr Gavaghan's research and teaching has revolved around medical law and ethics, which is a key focus for the Centre and an area where Otago has provided leadership.

"We are very grateful for the New Zealand Law Foundation's generous support for the new Director and Centre. The Centre will bring legal and ethical perspectives to the evaluation of emerging technologies in what is an age of rapid scientific development."

Dr Gavaghan's PhD examined the legal and ethical implications of embryo screening. His book, Defending the Genetic Supermarket: The Law and Ethics of Selecting the Next Generation, was published last year. He has written numerous articles and chapters dealing with genetic and reproductive technologies, end-of-life choices, dangerous patients and alcohol advice to pregnant women.

New Zealand Law Foundation Chair Warwick Deuchrass says the Foundation is delighted with the appointment and the knowledge and skills Dr Gavaghan will bring.

"The Law Foundation supports research into the legal issues associated with changing public policies, technologies and practices in New Zealand. It is important that we fully understand the potential effects of emerging technologies on all aspects of life, from law and politics to ethical, social and cultural values.

"The Foundation made this endowment to establish a framework for the systematic and comprehensive evaluation of emerging technologies, and to build New Zealand's legal and policy capability in these developing areas. Dr Gavaghan and the Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies will provide that."

Law Faculty Dean Professor Mark Henaghan says Dr Gavaghan will be a welcome addition to the faculty and New Zealand's debate as it develops its legal, ethical and policy responses to emerging technologies.

"New Zealand likes to talk about the importance of the knowledge economy and using new technology, but as it travels down that path there is analysis that must be done and issues that must be debated. That is where the new Centre will have a leading role to play in providing well-considered, research-based answers.

"Dr Gavaghan's background provides an ideal fit for the Director in Emerging Technologies and the challenges it will bring."

For further information contact

Prof Mark Henaghan
Dean, University of Otago Law Faculty
Tel 64 3 479 8856

NZ Law Foundation contact:

Brad Tattersfield
Communications Advisor

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