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Dr Laura Machin

Senior Lecturer and Curriculum Lead for PPVE

Laura Machin

Lancaster University

Furness Building



Tel: +44 1524 594973

Research overview

Broadly, my research interests rest within the social and ethical aspects of medicine. I have long-standing interests in matters related to reproductive medicine, and the donation of body parts, blood and tissue, and my emerging foci are on research ethics, and the notion of dignty in practice. Throughout my research activities, I adopt an applied approach, whereby I consider the policy and practice implications of the topic under study. My research has tended to be interdisciplinary in nature, drawing on a wide range of literature from medical sociology and ethics, and focused upon accessing hidden populations and interviewing on sensitive subjects.

PhD supervision

I am interested in postgraduate supervision in the following areas: - research ethics - donation of body parts, tissue, or fluids - dignity in practice - discharge against medical advice

Current Research

Connections of workplace cultures, patient safety and dignity

In collaboration with Dr Dawn Goodwin, Lancaster University

Funded by: Economic and Social Research Council


Exploring Perceptions of Quality Cord Blood Samples in Stem Cell Treatments

In collaboration with Dr Takuya Matsushige, National Institute of Public Health, Japan

Funded by:The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation


Aspects of Patient Self-Discharge Against Medical Advice

In collaboration with Dr David Warriner, University of Sheffield.

Funded by: Early Career Small Grants Scheme, Lancaster University


Exploring Egg, Sperm, and Potential Donors’ Satisfaction

Funded by: National Gamete Donor Trust


Learning about bodies: Intersections of technology, morality and pedagogy

In collaboration with Dr Dawn Goodwin and Dr Adam Taylor, Lancaster Medical School.

Funded by: Faculty of Health and Medicine, Lancaster University

Research Interests

Broadly, my research interests rest within the social and ethical aspects of medicine. My time as a postgraduate, whereby I focused on the social and ethical aspects surrounding reproductive medicine, in particular gamete and embryo donation, has been instrumental in shaping my research activities. I have since explored reproductive medical tourism, as well as the moral and political aspects of umbilical cord blood banking, during my postdoctoral period. Consequently, my research interests have extended to incorporate the social and ethical aspects of the donation of body parts, blood and tissue. Since arriving at Lancaster, I have supervised MRes students on healthcare professionals' decision making around organ donation, and am currently exploring the use of donated deceased bodies to teach anatomy to medical students with Drs Dawn Goodwin and Adam Taylor. I am particularly interested in exploring what is meant by terms such as ‘dignity’, ‘respect for bodily integrity’, and ‘emotional detachment’ in the context of anatomy teaching in medical education. Finally, my administrative and teaching responsibilities have fuelled a new passion in research ethics, which through postgraduate supervision, has become an emerging research interest.

My continuing enthusiasm for conducting empirical research developed during my doctorate, with a particular interest in accessing hidden populations and interviewing on sensitive subjects. This is reflected in my work with Dr David Warriner at the University of Sheffield on the social and ethical aspects of patients discharging themselves against medical advice. Similarly, my pleasure at conducting cross-cultural comparisons started with my PhD, when I conducted interviews with key stakeholders in the development of embryo donation in Australia and the UK, and continues today with my collaboration with Dr Matsushige at the National Institute of Public Health in Japan, where we are exploring the notion of ‘quality’ in cord blood treatments.

Throughout my research activities, I always adopt an applied approach, whereby I consider the policy and practice implications of the topic under study. This is reflected in my collaboration with the National Gamete Donation Trust to examine gamete donors’ satisfaction with the donation process, and the dissemination of the findings arising from the political and moral economy of umbilical cord blood banking project with Professor Nik Brown (Uni. Of York) and Dr Danae McLeod.

Current Teaching

Undergraduate Teaching

Problem Based Learning: I am a PBL tutor for first year medical students

Lectures: I lecture to first to fourth year medical students on the ethical aspects of the curriculum theme 'Professional Practice, Values and Ethics'. 

Debates: I organise medical ethics and law debates to second and fourth year medical students. The debates for fourth year medical students enable interprofessional learning, as they involve multidisciplinary teams made up of students from Social Work, Clinical Psychology, Hospice Management, and Law.

Ethical Decision-Making Workshops: I convene developing clinical ethical decision making skills workshops for first to fourth year medical students.

Clinical Ethics Forums: The Forums take place in the fourth and fifth year of the medical school curriculum. The Forums replicate those found within the NHS that provide guidance to healthcare professionals when faced with an ethically challenging patient case. The Forums foster interprofessional learning, as fifth year medical students, Masters Social Work, and Doctoral Clinical Psychology students patriciate within the Forums. The Forums with fourth year medical students involve paramedical trainees from UCLAN.

Ask the Expert Panels: The sessions cover topics to prepare fifth year medical students for their Foundation Training (making mistakes & accountability, and self-discharge against medical advice). The panels include speakers from the hospital, and general practice, and have a focus on the ethics, legal and communicative elements of the topics.

Special Study Modules: I convene three SSMs relating to my research interests first to third year medical students ('The Social and Ethical Context of Reproductive Medicine'; 'Deconstructing Donation'; The Making of a 'Good' Doctor)

Reflective Summary Reviewer: I co-ordinate a year long formative piece of reflective coursework for fifth year students, which requires students to reflect on the values and characteristics they wish to develop in order to be the best doctor they can be.

Summer School: Medicine Taster: I contribute to the Medicine Taster week at the University by delivering a lecture relating to medical ethics, and co-ordinating a debate competition for 16-17 year olds.

Academic Tutor: I act as an academic tutor for students across first to fourth years.

Postgraduate Teaching

FHM Research Ethics Training: I contribute to delivering the training for Faculty postgraduate research students, along with colleagues in DHR and BLS.

Lecturing: I provide individual sessions on clinical ethics and case analysis to Foundation Year doctors in Morecambe Bay Trust. I have previously contributed to the LLM/MA in Bioethics and Medical Law.

Additional Information

Research Supervision: Postgraduate

My postgraduate supervision has centered on professionals’ decision making in varying contexts of medicine. Theoretically, these studies have been interdisciplinary in nature, informed by medical ethics and medical sociology literature. Methodologically, these projects have involved conducting semi-structured interviews, which have been analysed using a thematic analysis. I have recently extended by supervision topics to include researchers’ ethics in practice, which is in line with my growing administration and research activities in the area.

Current PhD students include:

Anna Chiumento. ‘How do researchers construct and apply “ethics” to mental health research with post-conflict humanitarian populations in Pakistan, Sri-Lanka and Nepal? (co-supervisors Professor Atif Rahman; Dr Lucy Frith – Uni. Of Liverpool)

Past PhD students include:

Israel Okunwaye. 'Comparative legal and ethical perspectives on embryonic research: its justification and implications for human rights'

Past MRes students include:

Alex Wright. ‘End of life decision-making in the Intensive Care Unit’ (co-supervisor Dr Rachel Markham, Royal Lancaster Infirmary)

Heather Dixon. ‘‘Ethical’ decision making in organ donation’ (co-supervisor Dr Mark Wilkinson, Royal Lancaster Infirmary)


I am interested in postgraduate supervision in the following areas:

- research ethics

- donation of body parts, tissue, or fluids

- dignity in practice

- discharge against medical advice


Research Supervision: Undergraduate

I have supervised third year projects relating to my ongoing and emerging research interests:

Justine Milward. ‘How is a fertility preservation consultation approached by healthcare professionals in adolescents with cancer?’

Matthew McGee. ‘The purpose of medical oath taking’


Postgraduate Examination: PhD

External examiner:

- Ginny Mounce, School of Health Sciences, University of Surrey

- Kylie Baldwin, Applied Social Sciences, De Montfort University.

Internal examiner:

- Simon Reader, School of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University.


Positions of Responsibility: Internal

University Research Ethics Committee Member

Deputy chair, Faculty of Health and Medicine Research Ethics Committee

Lancaster Medical School Research Ethics Reviewer

Divisonal Representative, Faculty of Health and Medicine Research Ethics Committee

Lancaster Medical School Admissions

Positions of Responsibility: External

Editorial Board Member, Journal of Medical Law and Ethics

Institute of Medical Ethics Trustee

Institute of Medical Ethics Education Committee

NRES Committee, North West - Lancaster Research Ethics Committee

BSA Deconstructing Donation Study Group Convenor

Invited member of UHMBT Organ Donation Committee

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