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2010-2011 Annual Report Download

2010-2011 has been another successful year for the Center, as we further advanced our position as the preeminent academic institution examining how law intersects with health care, bioethics, and biotechnology. That success was, however, tinged with sadness by the news of Joe Flom’s passing. The Center is the realization of the vision that Joe and the Petrie Foundation set out for the Law School, and we remain grateful for his foresight and generosity. We are proud to carry forward the mantle of his name.

Our academic fellowship program, offering two years of support and mentorship for post- graduates, continues its remarkable record as a pipeline to top academic positions in health law. After turning down several other offers, our outgoing fellows ultimately accepted professor appointments at the law schools at Cornell and the University of Illinois, adding to the Center’s prior placements at Harvard, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Boston University, and the University of Arizona. Our current academic fellows are working on papers in topics such as rethinking conflicts of interest policies in academic medicine and reforming human subjects protection, and we are excited to welcome in two additional fellows beginning this summer.

Our fellows and faculty published or have forthcoming award-winning work not only in the leading law reviews, but also in medicine (The New England Journal of Medicine), science (Nature, Cell), economics (The American Economic Review), and bioethics (The American Journal of Bioethics, The Hastings Center Report).

Our student fellows continue to produce impressive work on a broad range of issues in health law, bioethics, and biotechnology. The intensive mentorship from Petrie-Flom affiliated faculty and from our academic fellows continues to pay dividends in improving the  quality  of  these  students’  work  and enabling  them  to  publish  while  still  enrolled students.

We held three important closed-door meetings this year. A one-day conference on the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act, which exempts insurance companies (including health insurance companies) from several elements of federal antitrust regulation. The conference brought together academics working in business schools, law schools, and economics departments from around the country in discussions with practicing antitrust and health care lawyers and advocacy groups.

We also collaborated with the Federal Judicial Center, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Federal Judicial Center, the National Center for State Courts, the American Bar Association Judicial Division, and the Dana Foundation to host a two- day training session for approximately 40 federal and state judges on the most recent research in neuroscience and what impact it may or may not have for the law.

Our annual conference continued the tradition of bringing together leading thinkers from a across the globe, this time to wrestle with one of the most challenging issues in health law, bioethics, and biotechnology: its globalization.  The Globalization of Health Care: Legal and Ethical Challenges brought together experts from practice and academia, working in fields that included law, philosophy, medicine, public health, government, anthropology, and geography, which produced an event that crossed borders and paradigms to gain insight on the vexing questions emerging from this rapidly changing field.  The conference tied together the manifestation of this globalization in four related subject areas – medical tourism, medical migration (the physician “brain drain”), telemedicine, pharmaceutical research and development – and integrated them with a philosophical discussion of issues of justice and equity relating to the globalization of health care and the public health governance issues involved.   Oxford University Press will publish a volume of the conference papers edited by Petrie-Flom Faculty Co-Director, I. Glenn Cohen.

Health care reform continued to take center-stage in our programming for the public.  A public debated entitled “Is the Obama Health Care Reform Constitutional?” received significant media attention, and brought together the leading constitutional law experts (Larry Tribe, Charles Fried, Randy Barnett) to debate the likely fate of the Affordable Care Act.  A separate panel united advocates and analysts to examine possible changes to health care payment reform.   An event with Massachusetts Senator Richard Moore discussed Massachusetts health care reform process and its outcomes to try to extract lessons applicable to federal reform program efforts underway.   A panel on racial disparities brought together lawyers, doctors, and economists to examine complex issues surrounding equities in health care delivery across racial and socio-economic divides.

The Center’s public bioethics-oriented programming this year included a discussion of fetal and neonatal research and the legislation governing it, a panel on female circumcision that brought together doctors, academics, and human rights advocates, a panel on the treatment of children with disabilities, and an event focused on autism and its treatment in the psychiatric community that considered the views of advocates, scientists, psychiatrists, and lawyers.  Our pharmaceutical/biotechnology programming included a session on challenges to pharmaceutical patents in the developing world, a panel discussion with leading FDA lawyers inside and outside of the agency on the regulation of biosimilars, emergency preparedness, and other current controversies in food and drug law, and a meeting with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg during which students were able to ask the Commissioner questions about the most pressing issues in the field, which lead to a candid discussion about the day-to-day challenges the Agency faces to fulfill the obligations of its mandate to protect consumers, and how this mandate has evolved to grapple effectively with   the   rapid   changes   in   technology   that   impact   and   augment   the   Agency’s responsibilities.

This report describes these accomplishments in greater detail, and briefly outlines plans for next year’s programming.