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Executive Summary

We can easily say that this year was the Petrie-Flom Center’s best yet. We launched two new sponsored research programs – one with Harvard Catalyst to address legal and ethical issues related to clinical and translational research, and one focused on resolving some of the most pressing legal and ethical issues that impact the health and welfare of professional football players – and we dramatically expanded our staff in order to keep up, welcoming two new Senior Associates and two part-time support staff. In addition, this year marked the beginning of our collaboration with Stanford and Duke to publish the JOURNAL OF LAW AND BIOSCIENCES, a peer-reviewed, open access interdisciplinary journal from Oxford University Press featuring world-class scholarship, responsive commentary, and student-written current event highlights. We are also pleased to welcome Professor Jacob Gerson’s Food Law Lab under our umbrella as it got underway this year.

The Center unveiled an extensive new website featuring a range of resources for individuals interested in our fields, including news and announcements about our Center and its activities, a news feed of current health policy stories making headlines around the world, available job openings and other opportunities at Petrie-Flom and elsewhere, primers on key bioethics and health policy topics, and a compilation of curricular and other resources for individuals at Harvard. Our popular blog, Bill of Health, is stronger than ever with nearly two years under our belt, frequent contributions from leading scholars, about 12,000 visitors each month, and readers in nearly 200 countries around the world.

Our bread-and-butter programs have also fared well. Each year, we host Academic Fellows (post-doctoral) who are preparing to enter the law school teaching market, several Harvard graduate student fellows and visiting scholars who are pursuing independent scholarly projects, and a number of student interns. We are also lucky to boast an impressive array of affiliated faculty from around the University. Our two departing Academic Fellows received tenure-track positions at the University of New Hampshire and the University of Cambridge, and produced world-class scholarship on innovation policy and anonymity. Several of our student fellows saw their papers published in leading outlets, and our visiting scholars made the most of their time through extensive networking, collaborative writing, and participation in Center events. And of course, our faculty leadership continued to be prolific scholars, publishing books and articles on topics ranging from medical tourism to reproductive technology to pharmaceutical patent policy and more. Center affiliates were published in leading journals, including Health Affairs; The Harvard, University of Chicago, UCLA, Fordham, and Boston College Law Reviews; The Journal of Law and Contemporary Problems; The Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics; The American Journal of Law and Medicine; The Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics; The New England Journal of Medicine; JAMA; The American Journal of Bioethics, and more. Center affiliates were also routinely sought out by the media to offer commentary and guidance on news stories in our fields, especially the mounds of litigation related to the Affordable Care Act.

The Center’s public events schedule was again packed and popular, from short panel discussions to conferences spanning several days. This year, we hosted events on behavioral economics, pharmaceutical policy, biopatent law, mental health, food law, animal ethics, reproductive rights, and health law and bioethics careers, to name a few. The edited volume from our 2012 annual conference, HUMAN SUBJECTS RESEARCH REGULATION: PERSPECTIVES ON THE FUTURE, was released by MIT Press in July 2014, and we are nearing submission of the manuscript for the volume from our 2013 conference on the Food and Drug Administration (to be published by Columbia University Press).

The Center’s biweekly Health Law Policy Workshop once again featured the interdisciplinary scholarship of leading academics, and Center affiliates made important contributions to the Law School’s health law curriculum, offering seminars on genetics and law, “ambiguous entities” in bioethics and law, and comparative professional responsibility for doctors and lawyers.

We anticipate that next year will be even better for the Center, save for the departure of our former Faculty Co-Director, Benjamin Roin, who is now at MIT Sloan. Professor Roin remains affiliated with the Center as a visiting scholar and affiliated faculty. We will launch a new collaboration with the Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior to host the Program on Law and Applied Neuroscience, and will continue our work on other sponsored research projects. Our current Academic Fellows are poised to do well on the law teaching market, we look forward to welcoming a new crop of student fellows and visitors, and our events schedule is already shaping up to feature a range of collaborations and commentary on everything from post-trial access to the legal and ethical issues faced by intersex individuals. We are nearing a contract with Johns Hopkins University Press on the book proposal stemming from our 2014 annual conference on Behavioral Economics, Law, and Health Policy, and already planning for next year’s conference on Law, Religion, and Health Care.
We look forward to building and continuing our substantial collaborations with colleagues at the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Government, and in particular, to working with the HMS Center for Bioethics to launch a new Master’s degree in bioethics, featuring a health law and policy track run though the Petrie-Flom Center.

Our sincere thanks go out to everyone who supports our work. We can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!