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Medical Law and Ethics

Edinburgh Law School has a long-standing tradition of teaching and research in the field of medical law and ethics. Our leading textbook, Mason and McCall-Smith’s Law and Medical Ethics, was the first of its kind when published in 1983. Today, the research area is one of the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom and it is home to a vibrant community of scholars studying and researching in this dynamic field.

Vitruvian Man images by Astrid Jaekel

As well as core undergraduate courses, we have an international reputation for our LLM degrees offered both on-campus and by online learning. Our PhD community has particular strength, and many graduates are now leading academics in their own right. Continuing professional development options are also available to support practitioners in healthcare, law, and associated professions keep on top of this fast-moving area.

In research terms, much of our work is carried out under the auspices of the Mason Institute that was established in 2012 as a cross-College interdisciplinary research hub. The Mason Institute’s mission is to investigate the interface between medicine, life sciences, and the law as these disciplines impact on medical and bioethical developments on a national and global scale. Our research has been funded by Wellcome Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Commission, and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, among others. We pride ourselves on our strong sense of interdisciplinary team working, and an example is our Liminal Spaces project that has been looking at how to improve human health research regulation.

Edward Dove, Lecturer in Health Law and Regulation

Murray Earle, Senior Teaching Fellow in Medical Law

Anne-Maree Farrell, Chair of Medical Jurisprudence

Agomoni Ganguli Mitra, Chancellor’s Fellow in Legal and Ethical Aspects of Biomedicine

Graeme Laurie, Professorial Fellow

Catriona McMillan, Senior Research Fellow, Liminal Spaces Project

Gerard Porter, Lecturer in Medical Law and Ethics

Emily Postan, Senior Research and Teaching Fellow in Bioethics

Ruby Reed-Berendt, Research Associate

Rebecca Richards, Postgraduate Research Assistant

Annie Sorbie, Lecturer in Law (Medical Law and Ethics)

Journal articles

Children’s best interests and parents’ views: Challenges from medical law.
Sorbie, Annie. In: Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 07.04.2020. View article

Clarifying how to deploy the public interest criterion in consent waivers for health data and tissue research. 
Schaefer, Owen; Laurie, Graeme; Menon, Sumytra; Campbell, Alastair; Voo, Teck Chuan. In: BMC Medical Ethics, Vol. 21, No. 23, 20.03.2020. View article

Imagining Life with “Immunity Passports”: Managing Risk during a Pandemic.
De Togni, Giulia (Lead Author); Boydell, Nicola; Chan, Sarah; Erikainen, Sonja; Ford, Andrea; Ganguli-Mitra, Agomoni; Lawrence, David; Montgomery, Catherine; Pickersgill, Martyn; Richards, Rebecca; Sethi, Nayha; Swallow, Julia.  In: Discover Society, Policy Press, 01.06.2020, p. 1-4. View article

Segmenting communities as public health strategy: a view from the social sciences and humanities.
Ganguli-Mitra, Agomoni (Lead Author); Young, Ingrid (Lead Author); Engelmann, Lukas (Lead Author); Harper, Ian; McCormack, Donna; Marsland, Rebecca; Segal, Lotte Buch; Sethi, Nayha; Stewart, Ellen; Tichenor, Marlee. In: Wellcome Open Research, 6.05.2020. View article

Challenging social structures and changing research cultures.
Pickersgill, Martyn; Cunningham-burley, Sarah; Engelmann, Lukas; Ganguli-mitra, Agomoni; Hewer, Rebecca; Young, Ingrid. In: The Lancet, Vol. 394, No. 10210, 07.11.2019, p. 1693-1695. View article

Should consent for data processing be privileged in health research?
Dove, Edward S.; Chen, Jiahong. In: International Data Privacy Law, 18.11.2019. View article

Co-production and managing uncertainty in health research regulation: A Delphi study.
Fletcher, Isabel; Dove, Edward S.; Laurie, Graeme; McMillan, Catriona; Sethi, Nayha; Sorbie, Annie. In: Health care analysis, 31.08.2019, p. 1-22. View article

Cross-sectoral big data: The application of an ethics framework for big data in health and research.
Laurie, Graeme. In: New Asian Bioethics Review, 01.10.2019. View article

Requiring a single IRB for cooperative research in the revised Common Rule: What lessons can be learned from the UK and elsewhere?
Dove, Edward S. In: Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 47, No. 2, 12.07.2019, p. 264-282. View article

Safeguarding the future of genomic research in South Africa: Broad consent and the Protection of Personal Information Act No. 4 of 2013.
Staunton, C; Adams, R; Botes, M; Dove, E S; Horn, L; Labuschaigne, M; Loots, G; Mahomed, S; Makuba, J; Olckers, A; Pepper, M S; Pope, A; Ramsay, M; Loideain, N N; De Vries, J. In: South Med J, Vol. 109, No. 7, 28.06.2019, p. 468470. View article

Safety of candour: How protected are apologies in open disclosure?
Leung, Gilberto; Porter, Gerard. In: BMJ, Vol. 365, No. l4047, 13.06.2019. View article

Sharing confidential health data for research purposes in the UK : Where are ‘publics’ in the public interest?
Sorbie, Annie. In: Evidence and Policy, 14.05.2019. View article

Are requirements to deposit data in research repositories compatible with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation?
Mascalzoni, Deborah; Bentzen, Heidi Beate; Budin-ljøsne, Isabelle; Bygrave, Lee Andrew; Bell, Jessica; Dove, Edward S.; Fuchsberger, Christian; Hveem, Kristian; Mayrhofer, Michaela Th.; Meraviglia, Viviana; O'brien, David R.; Pattaro, Cristian; Pramstaller, Peter P.; Rakic, Vojin; Rossini, Alessandra; Shabani, Mahsa; Svantesson, Dan Jerker B.; Tomasi, Marta; Ursin, Lars; Wjst, Matthias; Kaye, Jane.
In: Annals of Internal Medicine, 19.02.2019. View article

Book chapters

Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan and another (Scotland).
Ganguli-Mitra, Agomoni; Postan, Emily. Scottish Feminist Judgment Project. 2019. View chapter

Medical data donation, consent and the public interest after death : A gateway to posthumous data use.
Sorbie, Annie. The Ethics Of Medical Data Donation. ed.
Jenny Krutzinna; Luciano Floridi. Springer, 2019. p. 115-130 (Philosophical Studies Series). View chapter

Sanitation, gender inequality and implications for rights.
Koonan, Sujith; Bhullar, Lovleen.
Right to Sanitation in India: Critical Perspectives. ed.
Philippe Cullet; Sujith Koonan; Lovleen Bhullar. Oxford University Press, 2019. View chapter

The environmental dimension of the Right to Sanitation in India.
Bhullar, Lovleen.
Right to Sanitation in India: Critical Perspectives. ed.
Philippe Cullet; Sujith Koonan; Lovleen Bhullar. Oxford University Press, 2019. View chapter

The judiciary and the Right to Environment in India : Past, present and future.
Bhullar, Lovleen.
Indian Environmental Law: Key Concepts and Principles. ed.
Shibani Ghosh. Orient BlackSwan, 2019. p. 1. View chapter

The polluter pays principle : Scope and limits of court decisions.
Bhullar, Lovleen.
Indian Environmental Law: Key Concepts and Principles. ed.
Shibani Ghosh. Orient BlackSwan, 2019. View chapter


Regulatory Stewardship of Health Research: Navigating Participant Protection and Research Promotion. Dove, E.S. (2020) Edward Elgar Publishing View book

Right to Sanitation in India : Critical Perspectives.
Cullet, Philippe (Editor); Koonan, Sujith (Editor); Bhullar, Lovleen (Editor).
Oxford University Press, 2019. 304 p. View book

Confronting the Liminal Spaces of Health Research Regulation
The Liminal Spaces Project is a five-year initiative that began in October 2014. This Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award in Medical Humanities led by Prof Graeme Laurie seeks to provide the first-ever integrated, interdisciplinary and cross- cutting analysis of health research regulation (HRR) as it impacts on, and often impedes, the Wellcome Trust vision of realising extraordinary improvements in human health. The research confronts the gaps between documented law and research practice – i.e., liminal regulatory spaces – and promotes an holistic approach thus far absent in HRR.
Visit the Virtual Spaces Forum

Smart Regulation of Antiobiotic Use in India: Understanding, Innovating and Improving Compliance
The aims of this project are first, to better understand the various problems surrounding the regulation of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) containment in India, and second, to improve the situation by applying the concepts and methods of ‘smart regulation’. This is a Newton-Bhabha Fund project funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Government of India, Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
Visit the project website

Vulnerability and Justice in Global Health Emergency Regulation: Developing Future Ethical Models
Global Health Emergencies (GHEs) are crises that affect health, and that are, or should be, of international concern. These might include infectious outbreaks, humanitarian crises and disasters, conflicts, and forced displacements. GHEs are characterised by various forms of urgency and uncertainty, and are known to exacerbate existing inequalities, injustices and vulnerabilities in individuals and communities. This is a Wellcome Trust Seed Award Project entitled, ‘Vulnerability and justice in global health emergency regulation: developing future ethical models’.
Visit the project website

Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society
The Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society (CBSS) is a multidisciplinary research centre that builds on the University of Edinburgh’s unique history of leadership in social studies of science and medicine to scrutinise the complex social, cultural and technological landscape that characterises contemporary biomedicine and health care.
Visit the Centre for Biomedicine, Self and Society website

Empirical Legal Research Network
The Empirical Legal Research Network (ELRN) serves as a nexus for those interested in empirical research and the study of law in society.
Visit the ELRN website

Innogen Institute
The Innogen Institute is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and the Open University that produces high quality research and supports the delivery of innovation that is profitable, safe and societally useful. We build, nationally and internationally, on fundamental and applied research in science, medicine, engineering and social science.
Visit the Innogen website

Mason Institute
The Mason Institute is an interdisciplinary research network investigating the interface between medicine, life science, and the law.
Visit the Mason Institute website

Usher Institute
The Usher Institute is a high-energy, interdisciplinary environment dedicated to improving health locally and globally through research, education, knowledge exchange and innovation.
Visit the Usher Institute website

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