Research Collaborations


This collaboration, co-led by Vanessa Gruben, Angela Cameron, and Cattapan is an initiative to expand knowledge about the state of surrogacy (and other reproductive technologies) in the Canadian context, and to inform law and policy based on the knowledge produced. This work has (so far) resulted in a co-edited collection published with Irwin Law in November 2018, in addition to public events, workshops, blog posts, and consultations with government. (This work is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, with generous support from the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, and the Shirley Greenberg Chair in Women and the Legal Profession).


Across Canada, legislation about the sale of tissues varies widely. While Quebec, Ontario and Alberta restrict the sale of plasma, most other jurisdictions have legislation that exempts blood and blood products—as well as reproductive tissues—from provisions on sale.  With the recent establishment of for-profit plasma banks in Saskatoon and Moncton, as well as calls to rescind federal prohibitions on the sale of sperm and eggs–new concerns about the expanding market in human tissues have emerged.

This project–funded by the James Kreppner Award from Canadian Blood Services— interrogates the origins of tissue exemptions in Canada, identifying the discourses and arguments that led to their passage in provincial and territorial legislatures. Through a study of relevant legislation, legislative debates, minutes of relevant Uniform Law Conferences, media reports, and existing scholarship, it provides a comparative, analysis of the impetus for the varied tissues exemptions. In doing so, it reveals the historic intent of these exemptions, their contemporary status, and their relevance to current concerns about commercialization, including recommendations for potential harmonization and reform. (with Barbara von Tigerstrom, Erin Nelson, and Rosanne Dawson)


The 1970 report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women provided clear evidence of public engagement–reaching out to women across the country about their experiences, and ensuring that their positions were meaningfully heard in subsequent policy making. This project, led by Barbara Cameron (funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) in collaboration with a number of feminist scholars, activists, and organizations, builds on that legacy by asking what the meaningful public engagement can and should look like for women in contemporary Canada.

The recent focus of this work has been on public engagement exercises on “ground up policymaking” with women from underrepresented groups in the Halifax region. (with Alexandra Dobrowolsky, Tammy Findlay, and April Mandrona)


There is an extensive literature that demonstrates that individuals are motivated to participate in clinical trials for a variety of reasons, which include financial compensation, a sense of duty, curiosity, health benefits, boredom, and a concern for public health, amongst others. Little is known, however, about the motivations of participants in clinical trials for vaccines, which typically require healthy volunteers and offer inoculation as the only health benefit to be gained. This research, led by Katharine Browne and conducted in collaboration with NTE Impact Ethics and the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology  examines the motivations of healthy participants in two Phase I vaccine clinical trials. Combining empirical (survey) research and philosophical approaches, it identifies what factors motivate participation in vaccine clinical trials,  their relative importance for trial participants, and the sociopolitical importance of altruism in vaccine trial participation.


As certain classes of household chemicals (namely brominated flame retardants and phthalates) are ubiquitous in our homes and workplaces, the adverse effects of exposure on reproductive health are becoming apparent. Focusing on torts and criminal law, this project emphasizes the shortcomings of Canadian jurisprudence in addressing intergenerational reproductive harms, and works to offer alternative strategies. (in collaboration with Roxanne Mykitiuk, Jennie Haw, Lara Tessaro, and Mark Pioro, as part of two team grants funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on the reproductive effects of exposures to brominated flame retardants and phthalates).