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Thomas Alured Faunce


Thomas Alured Faunce

Thomas Alured Faunce (born 1958) is a Professor jointly in the ANU College of Law and Medical School at the Australian National University (ANU) at Canberra Australia. His main area of research has been health technology law and policy and in 2009 he was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to study nanotechnology and global public health.


Thomas Alured Faunce graduated with arts and law (honours) from the Australian National University in 1982. As a law student he won the prizes for contracts and air and space law was part of a team which won the Philip C. Jessup Cup international law mooting competition.[1] Faunce was legal associate to Justice Lionel Murphy of the High Court of Australia in 1983 in the year when it was involved in important decisions about the Australian constitutional power to protect the world's natural heritage in the Franklin River dam case,[2] Scientology and the Australian constitutional meaning of religion,[3] freedom of speech,[4] trial by jury,[5] the right to vote[6] and the political trials of terrorist groups.[7] Between 1983 and 1987 he worked as a barrister and solicitor with Mallesons Stephen Jaques in Canberra (living in Queanbeyan during this period) and with Freehills in Sydney.

Faunce graduated from medicine at the University of Newcastle in 1993 and practised in Emergency Medicine at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, and Intensive Care and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at the Canberra Hospital and (as Senior Registrar in Intensive Care) at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne Australia (where he treated patients involved in the 2002 Bali bombings).[8] He has published a text on anaesthetic and intensive care physiology and pharmacology.[9].

Faunce completed a PhD on the Human Genome Project and Health Policy at the ANU in 2000 (examiners Prof. Edmund Pellegrino, Prof. George Annas, Prof. Don Chalmers) and it was awarded the Crawford prize (best PhD in all fields at the ANU in 2001), named in honour of John Crawford (economist). This has now been published as 'Pilgrims in Medicine' by Kluwer law International.[10] Faunce was a founding member of the National Biosecurity Centre at the ANU, has served on the editorial board of the Journal of Medical Humanities and edits the Medical law Reporter for the Australian Journal of Law and Medicine. He currently serves on the executive board and in the artificial photosynthesis group with the ANU Energy Change Institute [11] and on the ACT Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal.[12]

In 2009, he was awarded an ARC Future Fellowship for his project, 'Fostering Safe Nanotechnology Research Focused on Critical Public Health Problems'. This is a 4-year fellowship and builds upon his unique interdisciplinary research and collaborations to develop an innovative framework for fostering the focus of nanotechnology research at the Australian National University on critical public health problems such as climate change, biosecurity, food and water safety, pollution control and equitable access to health technologies. The ARC Future Fellowships scheme supports outstanding mid-career researchers to conduct high quality, innovative research, build Australia's internationally competitive research capacity and develop strong links among researchers, research institutions and other disciplines. The national success rate for applications to this scheme was 20.5%.[13]

Health and medical policy research

Faunce is an author of books, published articles and book chapters about health law, health policy and bioethics. His main area of research is nanotechnology and its impact on global public health.

Faunce has promoted the idea that whistleblowing, particularly in healthcare, needs to be recognised as having a stronger academic foundation in virtue ethics.[14][15] At the ANU Medical School he developed one of the first academic programs for teaching healthcare whistleblowing within a clinical governance framework and has emphasised the need to draw on the medical humanities to develop professional conscience[16] as well as the importance of teaching medical students about the impact of corporate globalization on health policy.[17] His book Who Owns Our Health argues that corporate executives involved in healthcare institutions should, like doctors, nurses and other health workers, be subject to a code of professional norms.[18] He is a notable proponent of the view that international human rights law may supersede bioethics.[19] Faunce has also encouraged the development of an international treaty on the safety and cost-effectiveness assessment of new health technologies.[20] He has directed an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant into the impact of international trade agreements on Australian medicines policy.[21] He has also directed an ARC Discovery Grant on cost-effectiveness assessment of nanomedicine through the evidence-based processes of the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.[22] In 2009 he was awarded an ARC Discovery Grant (in collaboration with Gregor Urbas and Lesley Skillen) to investigate mechanisms for discovering fraud in the Australian Pharmaceutical Industry using methods developed under the United States False Claims Act.[23] Through these projects he has assisted to develop the regulatory concept of 'health innovation' or innovation based on objective assessment of the comparative therapeutic significance of a new health technology product.[24] In 2010 he was awarded (with Dr Hitoshi Nasu and Assoc. Prof. Margaret Kosal) an ARC Discovery Grant to investigate Australia's legal response to military and security applications of nanotechnology.[25]

Nanotechnology research

Faunce in his academic publications and research has investigated the important role of nanotechnology in resolving or ameliorating many of the critical public health problems facing humanity, but also of the need to apply the precautionary principle in relation to some of its safety risks.[26][27][28]

Sustainable energy research

Faunce has promoted the idea of a Global Artificial Photosynthesis (GAP) (or Global Solar Fuels) Project[29][30] analyzed some of the governance challenges it will face [31] and coordinated the first international conference on that theme at Lord Howe Island between 14–18 August 2011 under the auspices of the UNESCO Natural Sciences Sector,[32][33] editing the papers for a special open-source edition of the Australian Journal of Chemistry.[34] He has argued that natural and artificial photosynthesis should fall within the concept of common heritage of humanity under international law[35][36] and that there is an urgent need to raise the governance and public policy profile of this combined energy security and climate change technology.[37] His book Nanotechnology for a Sustainable World (Edward Elgar 2012) makes the case that global artificial photosynthesis may be viewed as the moral culmination of nanotechnology.[38] He has argued that global artificial photosynthesis could power a long-term period of human stewardship over the earth[39] (see Sustainocene) and he is a frequent presenter on this topic in the media, international conferences and workshops.[40][41][42][43][44][45] The Hooke Committee of the UK Royal Society have funded his proposal for a meeting at Chicheley Hall in July 2014 of the leaders of the national artificial photosynthesis projects to discuss specialization.[46]


Thomas Faunce is the son of the Canberra consulting physician Dr Marcus de Laune Faunce [47] the grandson of Marcus Gordon Faunce, a Lieutenant with the 6th Regiment of the 2nd Brigade in the Australian Light Horse, who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, Battle of Romani and Battle of Beersheba in the First World War,[48] the great grandson of Rev. Canon Alured Dodsworth Faunce of Queanbeyan and Yass, New South Wales 1840–1910 and the great great grandson of Captain Alured Tasker Faunce the first police magistrate in the Queanbeyan-Canberra region where he resided 1837–1856.[49] Direct descendants include Major-General Alured Dodsworth Faunce who fought with the 4th foot in the Peninsular War at the Battle of Salamanca, Battle of Corunna, Siege of Badajoz (1812) and Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro and Thomas Faunce of the 47th Regiment wounded in the capture of Quebec in 1759 at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.[50] Tom Faunce is married and has a son.



  • , Book Review, Stephen R Leeder, The Medical Journal of Australia

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