Human Tissue Authority

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The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) is an executive non-departmental public body of the Department of Health. It regulates the removal, storage, use and disposal of human bodies, organs and tissue for a number of scheduled purposes such as research, transplantation, and education and training.

It was created by the Human Tissue Act 2004 and came into being on 1 April 2005 and its statutory functions began on April 1, 2006. As of 2006, the authority was chaired by Baroness Hayman and since January 2010 has been chaired by Baroness Diana Warwick.

Its objectives are to: the regulating authority for matters relating to activities such as anatomical and post-mortem examinations, transplantations and the storage of human material for education, training and research.

It also acts as the UK competent authority under the EU Tissue and Cells Directives.

The Human Tissue Act

Main article: Human Tissue Act 2004

The Human Tissue Act 2004 repeals and replaces the Human Tissue Act 1961, the Anatomy Act 1984 and the Human Organ Transplants Act 1989 as they relate to England and Wales, and the corresponding Orders in Northern Ireland. The ULTRA (UK agency) and the post of HM Inspector of Anatomy were abolished and their functions transferred to the Authority.

The Act makes consent the fundamental principle underpinning the lawful storage and use of body parts, organs and tissue from the living or the deceased for specified health-related purposes and public display. It also covers the removal of such material from the deceased. It lists the purposes for which consent is required (the scheduled purposes).

The act notably prohibited private individuals from covertly collecting biological samples, such as hair and fingernails, for DNA analysis, but excluded medical and criminal investigations from the offence.[1]

Code of Conduct, and Jurisdiction

According to the Human Tissue Act, the HTA and its authority are governed by a code of conduct [1] for the handling of human tissue, and the bodies of the deceased, but does not give the HTA authority over exhumed remains from archaeological sites.

"The Human Tissue Act (HT Act) 2004 established the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) as the regulatory body in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for all matters concerning the removal, retention, use and disposal of human tissue (excluding gametes and embryos) for specified purposes. This includes responsibility for licensing the public display of whole bodies, body parts and human tissue from the deceased (if they died after 1 September 1906)." [2]

The Act governs England, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is separate legislation in Scotland, the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 and the Authority performs certain tasks on behalf of the Scottish Government (approval of living donation and licensing of establishments storing tissue for human application).

The Authority consists of a Chair and eleven Members. Nine members have been appointed by the Secretary of State for Health, one appointed by the Welsh Government, and one member is appointed by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland.

The professional members of the board come from medical and scientific backgrounds, and the lay members bring a wide range of business, commercial and public sector experience.

The members of the authority are as follows:

  • Ms Sharmila Nebhrajani OBE (Chair)
  • Mr Brian Coulter
  • Professor Susan Dilly
  • Mrs Amanda Gibbon
  • Ms Rosie Glazebrook
  • Professor Andy Hall
  • Mr Bill Horne
  • Ms Suzanne McCarthy
  • Professor Gurch Randhawa
  • Ms Catharine Seddon
  • Professor Anthony Warrens

The biographies for each Authority Member are available on the official website.[3]


  1. Human Tissue Act 2004, UK, available in pdf.

External links