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Current Postgraduate Research Students

Laura Machin supervises 4 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Professor Laura Machin

Personal Chair

Laura Machin

Furness Building



Tel: +44 1524 594973

Research overview

Broadly, my research interests rest within the social and ethical aspects of health and medicine. In particular, I have long-standing interests in matters related to reproductive medicine, and the donation of body parts, blood and tissue for a variety of purposes. My current research interests are within the field of clinical ethics, including the need for clinical ethics committees and clinical ethicists, clinical ethics education and training, improving organisational cultures, and the interplay between practitioner, relative, and patient and their decision-making in healthcare. My emerging research focus is located within research ethics. 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 medical ethics, and focused upon accessing hidden populations and interviewing on sensitive subjects.

PhD supervision

I am interested in postgraduate supervision in the following areas: - Donation studies - Clinical ethics - Research ethics

Current Research

I have various research activities I am working on at present, which map onto my current broad research interests:

1) Donation studies i.e. exploring stem cell donors' perspectives on how they wish for their donations to be used; exploring ICU professionals' perspectives of the opt out policy in organ donation in England; exploring a sociology of donation 

2) Clinical Ethics i.e. critically examining the need for clinical ethics and ethicists in NHS; exploring the value of training future doctors on clinical ethics; influencing organisational culture through educational leadership; understanding the ethical and legal training needs of Foundation Year doctors in England; examining the role and relationships of relatives with practitioners and patients, when patients decide to discharge against medical advice; exploring how time features in the interactions between practitioners, relatives and patients on ICU 

3) Researching research ethics i.e. exploring the notion of trust within the work of research ethics committees

Research Grants

1)   Donation Studies

Exploring Stem Cell Donors’ Perspectives Surrounding the Use of their Donations

In collaboration with Dr Chloe Anthias and Ann O’Leary

Funded by: Anthony Nolan


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


Exploring Egg, Sperm, and Potential Donors’ Satisfaction

Funded by: National Gamete Donor Trust


2)   Clinical Ethics

Changing the Workplace Culture: Empowering the Multiprofessional Team to Develop Future Educational Leaders

In collaboration with Miss Suzanne Gawne and Dr Rebecca Fish

Funded by: East Lancashire Hospital Trust


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


Connections of workplace cultures, patient safety and dignity

In collaboration with Dr Dawn Goodwin, Lancaster University

Funded by: Economic and Social Research Council

Research Interests

Broadly, my research interests rest within the social and ethical aspects of health and medicine. Throughout my research career, I have focused upon the social and ethical aspects surrounding reproductive medicine, in particular sex selection technology, and gamete and embryo donation. I have explored reproductive medical tourism, as well as the moral and political aspects of umbilical cord blood banking.

My recent research interests have extended to donation studies, which incorporates the social and ethical aspects of the donation of body parts, blood and tissue for a variety of purposes including art, education, transplantation, and research and development. I have supervised research students on healthcare professionals' decision making around organ donation, and have explored the use of donated deceased bodies to teach anatomy to medical students. My experiences sitting on internal and external research ethics committees has generated a new research interest, culminating in supervising two PhD students within the field of research ethics.

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 fostered my collaboration with Dr Matsushige at the National Institute of Public Health in Japan, where we explored 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 collaborations with not-for-profit organisations including Anthony Nolan to explore stem cell donors’ perspectives surrounding the use of their donations, and the National Gamete Donation Trust to examine gamete donors’ satisfaction with the donation process.

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', including topics such as dignity, research ethics, and doctors' rights 

Debates: I organise medical ethics and law debates to second year medical students with a range of debate motions on genetic testing and paternalism. 

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

Interprofessional Education: I co-organise and co-faciliate a range of IPE activities for fourth and fifth year medical students to learn about health and social care ethics, including matters are end of life. The sessions can involve paramedic, social work, and clinical psychology students, and can be in the format of a clinical ethics committee, or a debate. 

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


Postgraduate Teaching

Workshops: I provide workshops on research ethics as part of the MSc Clinical Research within Lancaster Medical School, and to support continuing professional development courses within CETAD.  

PhDs Examined

External examiner:

- Stephanie Parsons, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University

- 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.

External Roles


Chair, Institutional Review Board, Anthony Nolan

Advisor, UK Research Integrity Office

Editorial Board Member, Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics

Editorial Board Member, Journal of Medical Law and Ethics

Institute of Medical Ethics Education Committee

BSA Deconstructing Donation Study Group Convenor

Invited member of UHMBT Organ Donation Committee



Institute of Medical Ethics Trustee

BSA Human Reproduction Co-Convenor

NHS Research Ethics Committee member - North West

Editorial Board Member, Morecambe Bay Medical Journal

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:

Becky Case. The role of trust in the work of research ethics review. (co-supervisor Dr Mark Limmer, University of Lancaster)

Successfully supervised PhD students include:

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


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)


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’


Current Positions of Responsibility: Internal

Member, University Research Ethics Committee Member

Chair, Faculty of Health and Medicine Research Ethics Committee

Facutly Representative, University Education Committee

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