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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.

Sharon Cowan, Professor of Feminist and Queer Legal Studies

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

Kate Harvey, Research Fellow

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

Imagining Life with “Immunity Passports”: Managing Risk During a Pandemic
De Togni G, Boydell N, Chan, Erikainen S, Ford A, Ganguli-Mitra A et al, Discover Society, 1-4.
In: Discover Society, Policy Press, 01.06.2020, p. 1-4. View article

Should Consent for Data Processing be Privileged in Health Research? A Comparative Legal Analysis
Dove E.S., Chen J. In: International Data Privacy Law, Vol.10, Issue 02, May 2020, p.117–131. View article

To What Extent Does the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Apply to Citizen Scientist-led Health Research with Mobile Devices?
Dove E.S., Chen J. In: Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 28.04.2020, p.187–195. View article

Public Involvement in the Governance of Population-level Biomedical Research: Unresolved Questions and Future Directions
Erikanien S, Sorbie A, Chan S, et al, In: Journal of Medical Ethics, 06.10.2020. View article

Gross Negligence Manslaughter in Healthcare: Time for a Restorative Justice Approach?
Farrell AM, Alghrani A and Kazarian M, In: Medical Law Review, Vol. 28 Issue 03, Summer 2020, p.526-548. View article

Mental Health and Capacity Laws in Northern Ireland and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Examining Powers, Procedures and Protections under Emergency Legislation 
Farrell AM and Hann P , In: International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 22.06.2020 View article

Co-production and Managing Uncertainty in Health Research Regulation: A Delphi Study
Fletcher I., Birko S., Dove E.S.,  Laurie G.T., McMillan, C., Postan, E., Sethi, N., and Sorbie, A., Health Care Anal 28 (2020), p.99–120, View article

Fail to Prepare and You Prepare to Fail: The Human Rights Consequences of the UK Government’s Inaction During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Frowde R., Dove E.S., Laurie G. Asian Bioethics Review (2020, in press).

Segmenting Communities as Public Health Strategy: A View from the Social Sciences and Humanities
Ganguli-Mitra A, Young I, Engelmann L et al. , In: Wellcome Open Research, 6.05.2020. View article

Establishing the International Genetic Discrimination Observatory
Joly Y. … Dove E.S. et al. In: Nature Genetics, Issue 52, May 2020 p.466–468.

Asian Bioethics Review Enters a New Era
Laurie, G., In: Asian Bioethics Review, Vol. 12, March 2020, p.1-3, View article

Sustaining Bioethical Contributions in Times of Crisis and Change
Laurie, G., In: Asian Bioethics Review, June 2020, p.61-63, View article

Enacting Bioethics
Laurie, G. In: Asian Bioethics Review, September 2020, p.253–255, View article

Bidding Farewell to 2020: What Lessons Have We Learned and What Can Bioethics Continue to Teach Us?
Laurie, G., In: Asian Bioethics Review, in press.

ABC V. St George’s Healthcare Trust And Ors: A New Duty Of Care?
McMillan, C. In: Edinburgh Law Review, Vol. 24, No. 3, September 2020 p.394. View article

DNACPRs and Advance Care Planning in the COVID-19 pandemic: Key Lessons
McMillan, C., and Sobolewska, V., In: Journal of Medical Ethics, 15 April 2020. View article

Beyond Categorisation: Navigating the Relationship Between Subjects and Objects in Health Research Regulation
McMillan C., Dove E.S., Laurie G., Postan E., Seth, N., Sorbie A. In: Law, Innovation and Technology (2020, in press).

Better Governance of Human Genomic Data: Clarifying the Issues and Balancing Competing Values
O’Doherty K., Shabani M., Dove E.S. et al. In: Nature Genetics (2020, in press)

Narrative Devices: Neurotechnologies, Information, and Self-Constitution
Postan, E. (2020) Online First View article 

Clarifying How to Deploy the Public Interest Criterion in Consent Waivers for Health Data and Tissue Research
Schaefer, G.O., Laurie. G., Menon, S., Campbell, A.V., and Voo, T.C., In: BMC Medical Ethics, Vol. 21, No. 23, 20.03.2020. View article

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

Examining the Power of the Social Imaginary through Competing Narratives of Data Ownership in Health Research
Sorbie A, Gueddana W, Laurie G, Townend D, In: Journal of Law and the Biosciences (2020, in press)



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

The Cambridge Handbook on Health Research Regulation. Laurie, GT, Dove ES, Fletcher I, Ganguli-Mitra A, McMillan C, Postan E, Sethi N, Sorbie A (eds) Cambridge University Press (2021) (in press). View book

The Human Embryo in vitro: A Processual Entity in Legal Stasis. McMillan, C, Cambridge University Press (2021) (in press).


Book Chapters

Medical Matters’, Scottish Older Client Law Service 
Earle, M. Bloomsbury. Updated 2020.

Doctors and Global Health Security: What Role for Ethics and Regulation?
Farrell AM, in Jacob MA and Kirkland A (eds), Research Handbook on Socio-Legal Studies of Medicine and Health (Edward Elgar, 2020) 319-332.

Humanitarian Research: Ethical Considerations in Conducting Research during Global Health Emergencies
Ganguli-Mitra, A and Hunt, in Laurie, G et al. (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Health Research Regulation (Cambridge University Press, 2021) (in press).

Greater Glasgow Health Board v Doogan and another (Scotland)
Ganguli-Mitra A and Postan E., Chapter 15 in Scottish Feminist Judgments: (Re)Creating Law from the Outside In (Hart Publishing, 2019)

Laurie, GT and Coleman CH, in Orentlicher, D and Hervey T (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Health Law (Oxford University Press, 2020) View chapter 

Towards a Learning Health Research Regulation System
Laurie, G., in Laurie, G et al. (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Health Research Regulation (Cambridge University Press, 2021) (in press).

What Could a Learning Health Research Regulation System Look Like?
Laurie, G., in Laurie, G et al. (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Health Research Regulation (Cambridge University Press, 2021) (in press).

When is Human? Rethinking the 14-day Rule
McMillan, C., in Laurie, G et al. (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Health Research Regulation (Cambridge University Press, 2021) (in press).

Changing Identities in Disclosure of Research Findings
Postan, E. in Laurie, G et al. (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Health Research Regulation (Cambridge University Press, 2021) (in press).

Concepts: The Public Interest
Sorbie A, in Laurie, G et al. (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Health Research Regulation (Cambridge University Press, 2021) (in press).



Farrell AM, Invited Speaker, ‘Managing the Dead and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Ethics, Rights and the Role of Law’, THEMIS Symposium: The Protection of Human Rights in Infectious Disease Control: Lessons for Global Health Governance from a Comparison of National Judicial Practice, November 2020 (online).

Farrell AM, Invited Speaker, ‘No-Fault Compensation for Medical Injury: Which Way Forward after the COVID-19 Pandemic?’, Medical Defence Union (MDU) Study Day, June 2020 (online).

Farrell AM, ‘Global Health Security, Ethics and the Regulation of Public Health Risks’, United States Law and Society Association Annual Meeting, June 2020 (online). 

Farrell AM, Invited Speaker, ‘Managing the Dead and the COVID-19 Pandemic’, QUB Human Rights Centre All-Ireland Conversations: Human Rights and Covid-19 Webinar Series, May 2020 (online).

 Farrell AM, Keynote Speaker, ‘Contaminated Blood, Medicine and the Politics of Scandal’, Medico-Legal Society of Northern Ireland, January 2020.

Ganguli-Mitra, A., Invited Panelist, Nuffield Council on Bioethics, Webinar on the Ethical Implications of Antibody Testing and “Immunity Certification” (July 2020), View presentation details

Ganguli-Mitra, A, Invited Speaker, ‘Ethics in Times of Pandemic: Revisiting Vulnerability’, Edinburgh Infectious Disease Coronavirus Workshop, 2020, View presentation details

Ganguli-Mitra, A, Invited Speaker,Vulnerability and Responsive Pedagogy’, Race.Ed Launch Event on Collective and Creative Pedagogy (July, 2020) View presentation details

Postan E, ‘Identity and Information: Learning from Genetics, Looking Beyond Genetics’ Plenary Paper at the Genethics Forum Meeting, November 2020 (online).

Sorbie, A., Governance Challenges in Population-level Research: Can Engaging Publics Resolve Ethics and Legitimacy Problems?, 15th World Congress of Bioethics, June 2020 (online)

Dove, ES, ‘Ethics Review in Scottish Universities: How Can We Do Better?’ Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Research Incentive Grant [£11,435] (PI: ES Dove, 2020-21).

Dove ES, ‘UK-REACH: United Kingdom Research Study into Ethnicity and COVID-19 Outcomes in Healthcare Workers’, COVID-19 Rapid Response Rolling Call, UKRI-NIHR.
[£2,128,823] (PI: Dr Manish Pareek; 2020-21).

Coggon J, Dove ES, Farrell AM, Harrington, Murphy T, Tahzib F et al. COVID-19: Explaining the Legal & Ethical Dimensions and Providing Professional & Public Guidance [separately funded by the Universities of Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Queen’s University Belfast]  Project website

Farrell AM, The Technological Transformation of Sex: Improving Australia’s Response, Australian Research Council Discovery Grant [AUD$318,000; £163,000] (PI: Jennifer Power, Australian Research Centre for Sex Health and Society (ARCSHS) Co-Investigators: Prof Gary Dowsett, Prof Jayne Lucke, Dr Andrea Waling (La Trobe), Prof Anne-Maree Farrell (Edinburgh); 2019-2022). Project website

Farrell AM, A Research Network in Healthcare Law, Policy and Ethics on the island of Ireland, Wellcome Trust Small Grant in Humanities and Social Sciences [£12,360] (PI: Prof Anne-Maree Farrell; 2019-2021).

Ganguli-Mitra, A, Vulnerability and Justice in Global Health Emergency Regulation: Developing Future Ethical Models, Wellcome Trust Seed Award 70,642.00] (PI: Dr Agomoni Ganguli-Mitra, 2018-2020). Project website

McMillan C, ‘“Femtech” and the Process of Becoming a “Better” Woman: How Should Law and Regulation Respond to Health Technologies Targeted at Improving Women’s Health and Well-being?’, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2021-2024) View project details


Ganguli-Mitra, A. ‘Social Justice should be key to pandemic planning and response’ (02.04.2020) View blog

De Togni  (..) Ganguli-Mitra, et al. ‘Imagining life with “immunity passports”: managing risk during a pandemic’, Discovery Society View blog

Ganguli-Mitra, A. ‘The need to unpack vulnerability in pandemic’, The BMJopinion (03.07.2020), View blog


Commentaries and responses:

Pickersgill M, Cunningham-Burley S, Engelmann L, Ganguli-Mitra A, Hewer R and Young I, Challenging Social Structure and Changing Research Cultures, The Lancet, 2019, 394: 10210, 1693-5

Ahmad, Chung, Eckenwiler, Ganguli-Mitra, Hunt, Richards, Saghai, Schwartz, Scully, Wild , ‘What Does it Mean to Be Made Vulnerable in the Era of COVID-19’, Lancet, (27.04.20),View response



Paton and Ganguli-Mitra ‘Anyone can get coronavirus-but how you fare depends a lot of who and where you are’ The Independent (08.04.2020), View media

Ganguli-Mitra, A. Interview for Practical Ethics with Katrien Devolder: Is the Coronavirus Pandemic Worse for Women, View media


Parliamentary submissions

Postan E, Sorbie A, Ganguli-Mitra A, Chan S, Dove ES, Sethi N, McMillan C, Greenbrook J.  Submission from the Mason Institute for Medicine Life Sciences and the Law, School of Law, University of Edinburgh in response to UK Parliament’s Human Rights Committee call for evidence on the human rights implications of the UK Government’s response to COVID-19.


Policy briefs

Sorbie A, Gueddana, W, Laurie, G, and Townend, D., Does Data Ownership Hinder Biomedical Research?, Liminal Spaces Policy Brief, 2020, View brief

Dove E.S., UK National Contact, European Association of Health Law (EAHL)

Farrell AM, Expert Advisor, UK government-sponsored Infected Blood Inquiry View inquiry website 

Farrell AM, Co-Convenor, Law and Health Collaborative Research Network, United States Law and Society Association

Ganguli-Mitra, A. Invited Member, German Network of Public Health (Competence Network Public Health Covid-19): Expert Group on COVID-19 and Ethics, View website

Ganguli-Mitra, A.  Advisory Board Member, Feminist Approaches to Bioethics

Ganguli-Mitra, A. Chair of the Board of Directors, Shakti Women’s Aid, Edinburgh

Ganguli-Mitra A, Member, Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy of Scotland

Laurie GT, Editor-in-Chief of the Asian Bioethics Review

Laurie GT, Member of International COVID-19 Data Research Alliance Ethics Advisory Council

Laurie, GT, Member of AHRC COVID-19 Expert Peer Review Group

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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