Dr Sheetal Soni

Dr Sheetal Soni
Deputy Academic Leader of Teaching and Learning
Law Building – Room 7, 1st Floor


Dr. Sheetal Soni is the Deputy Academic Leader for Teaching and Learning in Pietermaritzburg, and a Senior Lecturer in the field of Bioethics, International Law and Intellectual Property Law. She holds LLB, LLM and PhD degrees and is an admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa. Her research interests are biotechnology law and the ethics of reproduction. She has done consultancy work for the HIV/AIDS Vaccines Ethics Group (HAVEG), the AIDS and Rights Alliance of South Africa (ARASA), and the National Department of Health. She is also a collaborator on projects with Next BioSciences and on the South African site of the Sustainable & Healthy Food Systems (SHEFS) project. She was a contributor to the Clinical Guidelines for the Provision of Genetic Services (NDoH), and serves on expert panels of the Network of African Academies of Sciences and the Academy of Sciences of South Africa, which is undertaking a study of the ethical, legal and social implications of gene therapy.

She is a member of the South African Society of Human Genetics; the International Association of Bioethics, African Bioethics Network and the Human Cell Atlas and serves on the Board of the Association for Responsible Research in Genome Editing (ARRIGE). She is also a member of the Advisory Board of the AI and Genomic Futures project, a collaboration between the Ada Lovelace Institute and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. She was an invited speaker at the Science at the U.S-Africa Leaders Summit in December 2022, and has been interviewed by the media on legal and ethical issues related to her research.

Academic qualifications

  • LLB (UNP)
  • LLM (UKZN)
  • PHD (UKZN)

Professional qualification

  • Admitted Attorney of the High Court of South Africa

Research Interests

  • Bioethics and Emerging Technologies – Genomics and the ethics of reproductive technologies
  • International Law
  • Intellectual Property Law

Membership of Professional & Other Organisations

  • Member – Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Gene Therapy expert panel of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa (ASSAf)
  • Member – Gene Editing expert panel of the Network of African Academies of Sciences (NASAC)
  • Board Member – Association for Responsible Research in Genome Editing (ARRIGE)
  • Advisory Board Member – AI and Genomic Futures
  • Member – International Association of Bioethics (IAB)
  • Member – African Bioethics Network
  • Member – South African Society of Human Genetics (SASHG)
  • Member – The Human Cell Atlas (HCA)


Accredited Publications
  • Carnelley C. & Soni, S. A Tale of Two Mummies. Providing a womb in South Africa: Surrogacy and the legal rights of parents within the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. A brief comparative study with the United Kingdom. Speculum Juris, Issue 2008(2)
  • Soni, S. Regulating Human Cloning – A Commonwealth Comparison. Speculum Juris, Issue 2010(2)
  • Strode, A & Soni, S. Pre-implantation diagnosis to create ‘saviour siblings’: A critical discussion of the current and future legal frameworks in South Africa. South African Medical Journal Volume 1 (2012)
  • Thaldar, T, Kinderlerer, J & Soni, S. An optimistic vision for biosciences in South Africa: A response to the ASSAf report on human genetics and genomics South African Journal of Science July/August (2019)
  • Strode, A; Bhamjee, S; Soni, S & Badul C. Proposed legislation on enduring powers of attorney for health care decisions and living wills: A legal lifeboat in a sea of uncertainty? South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 22(2) 84-86 (2019)
  • Soni, S. Prêt-à-Porter Procreation: Contemplating the Ban on Preimplantation Sex Selection. The Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, Volume 22 1 – 36 (2019)
  • Soni, S. Cautious progress towards clinical application of human gene editing. The CRISPR Journal. February (2020)
  • Soni, S. CRISPR and the Law: A South African Perspective. The CRISPR Journal. April (2020)
  • Angrist, M et al. Reactions to the National Academies/Royal Society Report on Heritable Human Genome Editing. The CRISPR Journal. October (2020)
  • Soni, S. The Brave New World: should we tread down the path to human germline editing? South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 14(1) 24 (2021)
  • Holness, W., Clark, B., Edgcumbe, A., Mnyongani, F., Soni, S., Shozi, B., & Thaldar, D. (2023). A “Parenting Licence” Granted by One’s Existing Children? Critical Analysis of the Judgment in Ex Parte JCR 2022 5 SA 202 (GP). Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 26, pp 1 – 14.
 Other Publications
  • Soni S. Am I my sister’s keeper? The new assisted reproductive technologies and the law. The Natal Witness. February 2010
  • Soni, S. Q & A: Can I select my baby’s gender? Your Pregnancy August/September (2018)
  • Soni, S. NIPT – What does the law say? Next Biosciences News (2019)
  • Soni, S. Yes, edit our genes – but do it cautiously. The Mail & Guardian November (2019)
  • S. Ethics of gene editing must be decided by each one of us. The Mail & Guardian January (2020)
  • Soni, S. Human gene editing: who decides the rules? The Conversation January (2020)
  • Soni, S. COVID-19 and gene editing: ethical and legal considerations. The Conversation May (2020)
  • Soni, S. The Legal Framework for Preimplantation Genetic Testing in South Africa. Next Biosciences News May (2020)
  • Soni, S & Baylis, F. Human Embryo Research Beyond 14 Days? International Perspectives. The Hastings Centre Bioethics Forum June (2021)
  • Soni, S. Limits for embryo research have been changed: this calls for public debate. The Conversation June (2021)
  • Soni, S. WHO guidelines on human genome editing: why countries need to follow them. The Conversation August (2021)
  • Soni, S & Savulescu, J. Embryonic screening using polygenic risk scores: legal and ethical implications. The Hastings Centre Bioethics Forum (2021)
  • Contributor – National Department of Health Clinical Guidelines for the Provision of Genetic Services (2021)
  • Soni, S. Access to Reproductive Technology May Be Impeded by Workplace Law and Policy in South Africa. Reproductive Technologies and Workplace Equality Symposium. Bill of Health. The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School (2023)