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DPhil(Oxon), LLB (hons), BSc (Melb), MBioethics (Monash)

Professor of Intellectual Property and Medical Law; Director Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences

My research focuses on biotechnology and bio-information, with the aim of understanding and improving the legal frameworks that govern this field This task has taken on special significance over the past two decades as advances in biotechnology, medicine and information technology have dramatically increased the storage and use of human bodies, organs, tissues, and DNA. As part of my research, I examine the laws that control the development and commercialisation of biotechnology, as well as those that facilitate it. This includes information law (primarily trade secrets, confidentiality and data protection), patent law, and other legislation and common law affecting medical research and technology. The research is informed by interdisciplinary perspectives, and where appropriate contributes to practical policy developments.

For example, a collaborative project, which involved a series of international meetings, examined the ethical, legal and political controversies surrounding patents over DNA sequences and embryo stem cells. Whilst stakeholders are in the habit of criticising their opponents’ views vehemently, we argued that the developments in patent policy over the past decade are, at a broad level, well suited to a morally pluralist polity and a defensible effort to balance incentives to create, improve and use. Other projects explain and critique the laws recently introduced in the UK and Europe to govern human tissue, personal data and DNA analysis, most prominently the Human Tissue Act 2004 (UK) and the Data Protection Act 1998 (UK). In this domain we have criticised the tendency of others to overemphasise the importance of informed consent as a regulatory mechanism, to observe ethical guidelines rather than legal specifics, and to misunderstand the fair and lawful limits of individual privacy. At the European level we have studied recent Directives including those dealing with Data Protection 95/46, Clinical Trials 2001/20, Biotechnological Inventions 98/44 and Human Tissue 2004/23. An overarching project, undertaken as a doctoral thesis, reflected more theoretically on the process of legal policymaking in fields such as these, which are characterised by extensive moral controversy. (For more information…)

My research benefits from funding provided by the Wellcome Trust, the Cambridge Genetics Knowledge Park and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. It forms part of a programme of investigations organised by the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law, and the Cambridge Centre for Medical Genetics and Policy.

Expressions of interest to undertake research in these areas at Cambridge are welcomed. Twelve months lead time is recommended.