Joseph H. Flom '48
Joseph H. Flom '48

Founding Benefactor of the Petrie-Flom Center

About Us 

The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School was founded in 2005 through a generous gift from Joseph H. Flom and the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation.  The Center’s founding mission was to promote interdisciplinary analysis and legal scholarship in these fields. Today, the Center has grown into a leading research program dedicated to the unbiased legal and ethical analysis of pressing questions facing health policymakers, medical professionals, patients, families, and others who influence and are influenced by health care and the health care system.  To achieve this goal, the Center fosters a community of leading intellectuals, practitioners, and policymakers from a variety of backgrounds at all stages in their careers, across Harvard University and across the world.  

10 Years of Petrie-Flom: Alumni Reflections Video

What We Do

The Petrie-Flom Center is currently led by Faculty Director Professor I. Glenn Cohen and Executive Director Carmel Shachar. The Center’s work generally falls into the following categories:

  1. Public engagement, including frequent events and conferences; extensive media commentary; our popular health policy and bioethics blog, Bill of Health, which boasts nearly 18,000 unique monthly users; and our website filled with guides and other resources for the public.

  2. Academic programs, including our post-doctoral fellowship, which has generated a cadre of leading health law professors now at top schools around the country; programs for visitors and senior scholars; a range of curricular contributions and workshops; and various mentorship and writing opportunities for Harvard students, including a coveted graduate fellowship.

  3. Sponsored research collaborations across the university and its affiliated hospitals, and elsewhere, with projects addressing research regulation and ethics, the health of professional football players, patient-centered outcomes research, and more, alongside additional collaborations covering law and neuroscience and advanced care and health policy.

  4. Independent scholarship and publications by our affiliates, including the peer-reviewed, open-access Journal of Law and Biosciences with partners at Stanford and Duke, and several books on cutting edge topics in health policy and bioethics.

Topically, our work spans the entire range of issues at the intersection of law and health policy, biotechnology, and bioethics. Among the many issues the Center’s work has covered are health care reform and economics, human subjects research regulation, medical tourism, fragmentation of American health care, conflicts of interest in medicine, religion and health policy, reproductive technology, law and neuroscience, health law and behavioral economics, pharmaceutical and device regulation, and more.  Our fellows bring their own areas of focus, ranging from medical innovation to health care finance to medical privacy, to name but a few.

Celebrating Our First Decade and Goals for Our Second

In  the decade spanning 2005-2015, the Petrie-Flom Center established a national and international reputation for expertise and excellence in our fields.  We look forward to continuing our focus on developing scholarship and new scholars in health law policy, biotechnology, and bioethics.  In the coming years, our goal is to expand our capacity to influence policymaking in these fields by establishing several new Topical Programs – Law and Bioethics; Health Care Delivery and Finance; and Medical Innovation and Law – that will provide independent expert analysis, policy recommendations, empirical research, and practical solutions to pressing issues, in the form of policy briefs, white papers, model legislation, public commentary, and real-time responses to emerging issues and opportunities. In so doing we will continue our central commitment to unbiased, non-partisan, expert analysis.

Support the Center

Although housed at Harvard Law School, the Petrie-Flom Center is independently funded through gifts, grants, and other funding arrangements.  Please consider supporting our work by making a contribution to the Center.  If you would like to discuss possibilities or learn more about what your gift could support, please contact Carmel Shachar, Executive Director,, 617-384-5475.