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Colm McGrath appointed to a Lectureship at King's College London

last modified Jun 12, 2017 02:17 PM

LML is happy to announce that Colm McGrath has been appointed to a Lectureship at the King's College London Dickson Poon School of Law. He will take up the position in January 2018.  At KCL, he looks forward to contributing to the School’s teaching in tort law and medical law and to continuing his research into the modern, historical and comparative development of the law of medical malpractice.  He also looks forward to retaining close links with LML and joining the centre's growing network of researchers and stakeholders beyond Cambridge.

Kathy Liddell participates in CSaP Senior Policy Fellows Meeting on Genetic Technologies

last modified May 24, 2017 09:47 AM

Kathy Liddell, Director of the LML, was invited to participate in 
the fourteenth Policy Leaders Fellowship Roundtable organised by the 
Centre for Science and Policy which will take place at Trinity College 
Cambridge on 12 May 2017, chaired by Lord Wilson of Dinton, former UK 
Cabinet Secretary.

The subject for discussion on 12 May was “advances in genetic 
technologies”. Each of the Fellows was asked to summarise in two minutes the questions are of interest to him or her, following which the academics then spoke for five minutes each on the relevance of their research to those questions.

Some of the questions which arose with direct relevance to LML research included: (i) what are the possibilities and risks associated with gene-editing and gene-drive? (ii) in additions to systems to review safety, are  systems of ethical review robust enough? (iii) which organisations and legal frameworks (e.g. IP rights) are the primary source of capital and source funding for genomic technologies (political economy and business models)? (iv) who wins and loses with gene editing and genetic testing (social equity; distributive justice); (v) how might regulation steer a middle way that avoids polarisation and neither exaggerates the potential benefits nor is over-cautious about the risks? (vi) who/what is informing policy currently? (vii) who/what should be informing policy? (viii) how are risks and benefits managed globally? 

The Policy Leaders Fellowship brings together the most senior members of 
CSaP's network of policy professionals to form a select group which 
meets, together with leading researchers from the University and other 
institutions, to share insights into the development of open and 
evidence-based policy making. In line with the objectives of the Civil 
Service Reform Plan, it promotes the value of evidence, and progresses 
the move towards open policy making by opening up new ways of thinking 
and fresh perspectives; exercising “open minds” at the top of the policy 
making process; exploring new models for implementation; and creating 
engagement between policy, expertise and delivery.

Dr. Liddell appointed to Expert Board for “Study on the Economic Impact of SPCs”

last modified Apr 28, 2017 01:59 PM

Dr Kathy Liddell has been appointed to the Expert Board for Copenhagen Economics’ successful proposal to the European Commission (DG GROW) to prepare its “Study on the economic impact of SPCs, Pharmaceutical incentives and rewards in Europe”.

The overall objective of the project is to shed light on the effects of IP-related incentives (in particular Supplementary Protection Certificates) for innovation, availability and accessibility of pharmaceutical products in the European Union.

The team at Copenhagen Economics has extensive experience performing economic analyses and providing advice to the European Commission as well as to numerous clients in the pharmaceutical industry. 

The Expert Board will act as a close partner on the project providing professional assistance and expert insights. It consists of five well known international academics – Dr Kathy Liddell (Cambridge), Prof Timo Minssen (Copenhagen), Prof Brian Wright (Berkeley), Prof Jacques Pelkmans (CEP), Prof Jakob Kjellberg (KORA) -- each with their own respective area of expertise, covering legislation with a special focus on patents and intellectual property, econometrics and health economics. 

Prof. Knoppers and Dr. Yotova to speak on the topic of gene editing

last modified Apr 28, 2017 01:57 PM

On 25th May 2017, LML Visiting Scholar Prof. Bartha Knoppers and LML Member Dr. Rumiana Yotova will be speaking on the topic of gene editing. These presentations will be given as part of an event organised by the PHG Foundation:

'Gene editing: from innovative science to effective policy'.  

(See corresponding listing in LML Events. Tickets can be obtained here.)

The pace of scientific innovation in and around the life sciences has never been faster, and the implications of many of these innovations pose significant issues for policy-makers, especially for applications relating to human health. How can we balance an accurate understanding of complex science and medicine against relevant ethical, legal and social issues to develop robust and effective policy?

More information about the event, supported by speakers from the University of Cambridge Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences and the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, can be found here.

Dr. Powles publishes ‘Google DeepMind and Healthcare in an Age of Algorithms’.

last modified Mar 21, 2017 10:21 AM

Dr. Powles publishes ‘Google DeepMind and Healthcare in an Age of Algorithms’.

 A new study co-authored by LML member Dr. Julia Powles and The Economist’s Hal Hodson examines in detail Google DeepMind’s entry into the healthcare space. The paper, published in the journal Health and Technology, critically analyses the architecture, communication, and oversight of a foundational deal with the Royal Free London NHS Hospital Trust. It also spans broader, future-oriented questions of transparency, data value, and market power in data-driven healthcare. 

More information about the paper is available here. It has received wide press coverage, including in the BBC, Quartz, The Verge, Business Insider, Wired and numerous other outlets.

Dr Liddicoat and Dr Liddell publish Workshop Report on Open Innovation with Large Bioresources

last modified Feb 13, 2017 09:38 AM

On December 22 2016, a report on 'Open Innovation with Large Bioresources' was published by Dr Liddell and Dr Liddicoat.

This report is from a Cambridge Workshop on the openness of large bioresources in synthetic biology and genomics (e.g. the 100,000 Genomes Project), held on 28 January 2016. Research in SB and Gx depends on the use of collections of tissue and data, commonly known as bioresources. Substantial amounts of time and money are being spent on creating these bioresources and it is likely that significant scientific breakthroughs and development of end-products may be missed or delayed if the tissue and data in these resources are not shared. Accordingly, the ‘openness’ of these bioresources — in other words, the ability for other researchers to access, use, and share these resources (which is typically recorded in a bioresource’s IP and access policy) — is a key issue for the success of bioresource initiatives and the progress of SB and Gx.

There are, however, many different approaches to openness, and the development and dissemination of new knowledge are not necessarily advanced by distributing material at low cost or without any restrictions; time-limited rights of control (e.g. IP rights) may provide a useful incentive. It is a significant challenge to develop a fit-for-purpose openness policy that balances the advantages (and disadvantages) of different approaches to openness. The Workshop addressed this challenge by: reviewing openness policies adopted by large bioresources; eliciting ideas about access and intellectual property; debating the applicability of different openness policies; and identifying relevant areas for future research.

The report can be accessed here, and thanks and acknowledgments go to the Welcome ISSF and OpenPlant funds, and the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP).

Workshop on “Diseased Kidney Transplantation”: legal issues surrounding 'extended criteria' donors

last modified Dec 22, 2016 11:27 AM

In July 2007, the administrative guideline of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan introduced a new clause prohibiting doctors from transplanting a “diseased kidney” except as part of clinical research. Several patient groups and some legal scholars support this position, while other legal scholars assert that “diseased kidney transplantation” lacks medical indication or medical adequacy (lege artis) and does not constitute a “justification of injury (with consent)”.

Transplanting diseased kidneys could be said to be part of the recent development of “extended criteria (or marginal) donors”, and it is particularly controversial due to low survival rates of renal transplantation recipients and grafts from living donors with pre-existent renal diseases. The conflicts are fundamentally linked to the lack of legal regulations on living organ transplantation in Japan.

Against this backdrop, a workshop organised by Prof. Yuji Shiroshito (recent Visiting Scholar with the LML; Hokkaido University) was convened on 11 December 2016 to discuss the issues surrounding “diseased kidney transplantation”. These included the necessity and validity of legalising living donor organ transplantation and the legal position in foreign countries.

Guest speakers included Dr. Matthew Dyson (University of Oxford; research collaborator with LML), Prof. Chul Woo Yang, M.D. (Cathoric University of Korea), and Prof. Junichiro Okuda (Sophia University, Japan). Dr. Dyson asserted that transplantation which transmitted disease should be mainly regulated by negligence and product liability, and spoke about the possibility of the "first party insurance system" as an alternative to tortious liability; Prof. Yang questioned whether using diseased (but repaired) kidneys was really needed to relieve the chronic organ shortage in Japan; and Prof. Okuda pointed out some problems from bioethical viewpoints.

The presentations and subsequent discussion were very well-received, and the LML looks forward further collaboration on future projects.

Dr Erdos delivers WYNG-Hatton Lecture: “Data Protection in an Age of User-Generated Content”

last modified Dec 01, 2016 11:36 AM

David Erdos WYNG-Hatton Lecture


The majority personal information available online is now in some sense user-generated and most of this is subsequent to further processing by service providers pushing, structuring and aggregating the content. The new ecosystem raises unprecedented challenges for the data protection framework both as regards the safeguarding of users themselves and the allocation of responsibility between them and service providers for the protection of the rights of other individuals who may be identifiable in the published data. 

In the annual WYNG-Hatton Lecture, delivered on 9 November 2016 at the University of Hong Kong, Dr David Erdos explored these issues from both an historical and contemporary perspective concentrating especially on the case examples of health discussion forums, the publication of data from internet of things tracking devices and the responsibilities of search engines in the wake of the "right to be forgotten" ruling in Google Spain (2014).

A video recording of this lecture has kindly been made available by the University of Hong Kong here.

Slides are available here.



Sculpting evolution? A multidisciplinary workshop explores regulatory, legal and ethical perspectives of gene drive.

last modified Nov 28, 2016 10:31 AM

Gene drives are natural genetic systems that enable genes to spread rapidly within entire populations. By harnessing the power of these systems, society could significantly impact evolution.  Their use thus raises difficult social, legal, ethical and environmental questions.

While gene drive systems do exist in nature (and some have already been used to, for example, make mosquito populations unable to transmit dengue virus), these natural systems have limited uses.  The revolutionary potential comes from synthetic gene drive systems that use cutting edge techniques (e.g., the gene editing tool CRISPR/Cas9), which could in theory  be used to spread custom-made genes in many different organism.  This technology could be used in many scenarios including, medical, agricultural and conservational purposes.

Against this backdrop, the Synthetic Biology SRI, Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences and the Centre for Science and Policy co-organised a workshop in Cambridge on 18 October to look at regulatory, legal and ethical perspectives of this technology. Attendees were drawn from a variety of organisations that may play a role in shaping UK and EU policy, including: academics in the natural and social sciences; government agencies like Defra, HSE and Dstl; learned societies such as the Royal Society and Royal Society of Biology; and, experts from the EU and other European national bodies.

Presentations & Discussions

Synthetic biologist Dr Kevin Esvelt (MIT Media Lab) started proceedings by introducing his work on gene drive systems. Amongst other innovations, Esvelt and colleagues have developed a gene drive system that could rapidly spread malaria resistance in mosquito populations.

Other speakers presented on regulatory, legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of gene drive technologies, leading to robust discussions on themes including: governance and how to engage with multiple publics; potential legislative and regulatory changes; and the responsibility of different actors from scientists to policy makers.

Discussion at the workshop revealed different opinions on many topics. One such topic was the question of whether legislation covering laboratory use of gene drive needs to be amended to provide extra protection against inadvertent release of gene drive organisms. One view was that extra protection was needed due to the relative ease of synthesising gene drives and the scope for major population level changes in the event of an accidental release. A contrasting view was that modifications to guidelines and norms of the scientific community will be as effective as new legislation.

Next steps

The diversity of perspectives and opinions at the workshop gave much food for thought and a report is being drafted for public release. The report will guide the organisers’ future research in this area and, hopefully, assist other organisations’ assessments of gene drive.


LML 'Down Under'

last modified Nov 28, 2016 09:52 AM

In November 2016, two members of the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences will be undertaking research visits in Australia.

From 3 - 8 November, Dr Kathy Liddell will be working with the Law Faculty at the University of Melbourne as a Visiting Scholar. Dr Liddell will be taking part in strategic discussions for future collaborations between the Faculty of Law, Cambridge and the Law Faculty, Melbourne, in the area of law, technology, health law and innovation. This dialogue will be followed by discussions with Melbourne Law PhD students. On 7 November, Dr Liddell will be a key presenter at a roundtable seminar on 'Precision Medicine: IP, Regulatory and Ethical Challenges', speaking on the topics of 'Changing Landscapes in IP and Precision Medicine' and 'Precision Medicine: Legal and Ethical challenges'.

Meanwhile, from 7 - 13 November, Dr Liddicoat will be delivering a number of talks and presentations in Australia. On 7 November, Dr Liddicoat will be talking about challenges for early-career academics with postgraduate students and early-career researchers in social sciences at the University of Tasmania. This will be followed on 10 November by a presentation at a workshop on material transfer agreements (MTAs), and by a presentation at a workshop in gene editing on 13 November.  



Festival of Ideas: Is earlier necessarily better?

last modified Nov 03, 2016 01:14 AM

On 24th October a packed audience gathered at the McCrum lecture theatre in the heart of Cambridge to attend the Festival of Ideas event "Is earlier necessarily better?" To our knowledge this was the first ever cancer-themed event to feature in the Festival of Ideas, which generally focuses more on the arts and social sciences. The premise of the event was to explore the wider, societal issues surrounding cancer screening (legal, psychological, social, economic, philosophical). This is an under-researched area and the Early Detection Programme is currently planning to commence some work in this arena.

Organised by the Early Detection Programme, with whom the LML has collaborated this year, the Festival of Ideas event featured a panel of seven experts from across the academic disciplines including law, history and philosophy of science, radiology, cancer genetics and surgery. Expertly chaired by cancer geneticist Prof Sir Bruce Ponder, the panel and audience were inspired to discussion using clips from the BBC Horizon programme episode entitled Are health tests really a good idea? The audience posed some interesting and well-informed questions and comments, and the feedback, both on the theme and the format of the event, has been extremely positive.

Research Associate position

last modified Oct 06, 2016 11:44 AM

Applications are invited for the position of an Information Governance Research Associate in the Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, to work on a research project entitled Human Rights, Big Data and Technology (HRBDT) funded by ESRC and principally based at the University of Essex. Under the guidance of Dr David Erdos, the role holder will actively engage with the work of the HRBDT project especially as it relates to data protection.

Applicants will have a PhD or equivalent in law or a related discipline, preferably related to information law.

Experience and expertise in data protection law and regulation as well as a background of research in this area would be of advantage. The role also involves some administrative responsibilities linked to the project, such as event and conference organisation.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 20 months.

To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply' button below. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

If you have any questions about this vacancy or the application process, please contact Dr David Erdos by

Please quote reference JK10330 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.


Full funding for PhD student commencing 2016/17

last modified Oct 06, 2016 11:45 AM

The Faculty of Law is offering a studentship for a new PhD student commencing full-time doctoral research in 2017/18. The studentship is available to Home UK/EU and overseas students, and it is renewable for a further 2 years subject to satisfactory academic progress. The value of the studentship will be the full annual University Composition Fee together with an annual maintenance award of £13440.

Any topic concerning legal or policy aspects of medicine and life sciences can be considered for the studentship.  Some potential areas of enquiry (this is not an exhaustive list) include:

  • intellectual property protection for second medical use
  • uses of big data/predictive algorithms in medical care or research
  • pharmaceutical law, innovation and pricing
  • legal or regulatory issues in personalised drugs and diagnostics
  • loss of chance harms and causation in preventative medicine
  • medicine, health data, and the "internet of things"
  • proportionality arguments in healthcare law
  • uses of genomic technologies in health systems
  • the relationship between the state and private sector in the provision of healthcare (e.g. personalised medicine)
  • the role of data protection law in medical governance

Candidates wishing to be considered for this studentship should apply for admission as a graduate student by 1 December 2016 and return the studentship application form by the closing date of 31 January 2017. For more information about the Faculty’s Centre for Medicine, Law and Life Sciences, see



Workshop on the Future of Genomic Medicine Patents in Europe and the US

last modified Nov 28, 2016 10:12 AM

The decision by the United States Supreme Court to deny the petition for review in Ariosa Diagnostics v Sequenom placed the patenting of diagnostic tests to the forefront of medical policy, bringing into sharp focus the potential conflict between facilitating access to the latest diagnostic techniques and encouraging invention and commercialisation.

Against this backdrop, the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, together with the Centre for Science and Policy, hosted an Expert Workshop on genomic medicine and intellectual property on 6th September, bringing together academics, law professionals, medical practitioners and policy makers.

More information about the discussions at this Workshop can be found here

Dr Okeoghene Odudu speaks about the interaction between public procurement and competition rules in relation to potential conflicts of interest in NHS commissioning

last modified Aug 18, 2016 10:18 AM

Dr Okeoghene Odudu speaks at 'Taking stock of NHS governance after the 2013 reforms: public procurement, competition and conflict'. 

The event, hosted by the University of Bristol Law School on 23 June 2016, brought together CCGs, NHS trusts, legal practitioners and academics, so that they could collectively take stock of this aspect of the new NHS governance framework almost three years after its adoption. It aimed to explore issues of interaction between public procurement and competition rules in relation to potential conflicts of interest in NHS commissioning. This exploration should allow for the emergence of some initial lessons-learned, as well as help shape research agendas in this area of public governance, which will undoubtedly gain relevance over the coming years. 


LML welcomes Professor Bartha Knoppers

last modified Jul 08, 2016 02:06 PM

The LML is delighted to be hosting Professor Bartha Knoppers, Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy at McGill University, between 4 and 7 July.Prof Knoppers and Dr Liddell

In addition to meeting with LML and PHG Foundation members, Professor Knoppers will be presenting a seminar at Hughes Hall entitled "The measured man? Is the time right for a move from genetic testing and biobanking at specific time-points to continuous, real-time monitoring of individuals?"

Professor Knoppers' visit is the first of a on-going series of visits between the Centre of Genomics and Policy (McGill) and the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences (Cambridge). It also cements the tripartite collaboration with the Centre for Medical 
Ethics and Law (Hong Kong University). A variety of upcoming events and projects are envisaged on topics as diverse as: family disclosure of genetic data; the right to benefit from science and scientific data in international law; pre-competitive collaborations in biobanks; liability for missed or delayed genetic diagnosis.


Dr Scherpe cited by Lord Wilson in Supreme Court oral proceedings

last modified Jul 08, 2016 11:24 AM

Following on from the 2013 International Conference on the Legal Status of Transsexual and Transgender Persons, and the recent publication by Intersentia of  The Legal Status of Transsexual and Transgender Persons (edited by Dr Jens Scherpe) – which was referred to by Lord Wilson in recent proceedings before the UK Supreme Court [see linked footage at approximately 29:40] – the Cambridge Family Law Centre will be hosting a workshop on 'The Legal Status of Intersex Persons' on 21-22 July 2016.

Several jurisdictions now allow for persons to be registered as neither male nor female, and participants at the workshop, organised jointly by Prof. Anatol Dutta (Regensburg), Prof. Tobias Helms (Marburg) and Dr Jens Scherpe (Cambridge), will present on and discuss the current laws from various jurisdictions, their obvious shortcomings and which next reform steps need to be taken.

Also, papers will be presented on the legal history of intersex, the international human rights perspectives as well as medical and theological views on intersex as well as.

Attendance at the workshop is by invitation only.

LML welcomes visitors from CMEL

last modified Jun 14, 2016 09:52 AM

Dr Terry Kaan, Co-Director of Hong Kong University's Centre for Medical Ethics and Law (CMEL), and Assistant Professor Ms Daisy Cheung will be visiting the University of Cambridge between 16 - 21 June. Dr Kaan and Ms Cheung will be meeting with various members of the LML and the PHG Foundation during their visit.

CMEL and LML have a close collaborative relationship with regular exchanges and shared ventures. Earlier this year, in April, CMEL and LML hosted a conference on Precision Medicine.  Later this year Cambridge will also be leading a conference on comparative legal regulation of surrogacy hosted in Hong Kong. A primary aim behind the Universities' collaboration is to foster comparative legal and ethical insights through co-operation and exchange.

Justice Green delivers judgment in tobacco regulation case; finds against tobacco companies

last modified May 19, 2016 01:13 PM

Justice Green has today (19 May 2016) delivered judgment in British American Tobacco & others v Department of Health rejecting applications by the tobacco companies for judicial review. The judgment and a summary thereof are available here and here

An Insight into the Patentability and Enforcement of Second Medical Use Patents in the EPO and English Courts Seminar

last modified May 19, 2016 12:13 PM

An Insight into the Patentability and Enforcement of Second Medical Use Patents in the EPO and English Courts Seminar

Marks & Clerk LLP, 62-68 Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 1LA
2 June 2016 2pm-5pm
Jonathon Stafford, Marks & Clerk LLP and Trevor Crosse, Marks & Clerk Solicitors, will be presenting a talk on the patentability and enforcement of second use medical patents in the EPO and English Courts.
Topics covered will include:
  • Patentability of second medical use claims at the EPO and the interpretation and enforcement of such claims, including discussion of the decisions that have shaped this area of the law.
  • The standard of evidence required by the EPO in support of second medical use claims, including a review of the origins of the requirement for plausibility / credibility and examples of cases where the necessary standard was, or was not, considered to have been met.
  • The rapid propagation of the requirement for plausibility into all aspects of English patent law, focusing particularly on the sufficiency of second medical use claims and including a discussion of the key English cases that culminated in the recent decision of Carr J in Actavis v Eli Lilly.
  • Where both the EPO and the English courts have arguably gone wrong in relation to the standard of evidence for second medical use claims, the difficulties faced by applicants in knowing when to file, and the practical steps that can be taken to maximise the prospects of obtaining a valid second medical patent.
  • Associated research questions and possibilities for interdisciplinary collaborations across Cambridge (led by Dr Kathy Liddell) 
Refreshments will be provided.
Please email to register your attendance.

Dr Skopek to present "Privacy in Numbers? Biological Bodies of Data, Big Data's Epistemology, and the Legal and Ethical Status of Health Inferences”

last modified May 10, 2016 01:57 PM

Dr Jeffery Skopek will deliver a presentation on "Privacy in Numbers? Biological Bodies of Data, Big Data's Epistemology, and the Legal and Ethical Status of Health Inferences" at a workshop on the Legal Dimensions of Big Data in the Health and Life Sciences, at the University of Copenhagen on 20 May 2016. 


Dr Fenton-Glynn to present "Revisiting parenthood in the 21st Century" at Culture, Dispute Resolution and the Modernised Family Conference 6-8 July 2016

last modified May 10, 2016 01:54 PM

Dr Claire Fenton-Glynn will be delivering a speech entitled "Revisiting parenthood in the 21st Century" at the Culture, Dispute Resolution and the Modernised Family Conference hosted by the International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice between 6-8 July in London. 



Dr Skopek publishes chapter in "Blinding as a Solution to Bias: Strengthening Biomedical Science, Forensic Science, and Law"

last modified May 09, 2016 04:16 PM

Dr Jeffrey Skopek has published "A Theory of Anonymity" in Blinding as a Solution to Bias: Strengthening Biomedical Science, Forensic Science, and Law (Christopher Robertson and Aaron Kesselheim, eds., Elsevier 2016). 


Chapter abstract:

Anonymity is at work across our law in ways that have gone unrecognized. In domains ranging from contract and copyright to criminal law and constitutional law, our legal system makes anonymity and non-anonymity into rights, conditions of exercising rights, and triggers that extinguish rights. These diverse domains and forms of anonymity rules may appear to lack theoretical coherence. But they are in fact all part of a coherent class of legal interventions whose aim is not to protect privacy, but rather to regulate relationships of influence and dependence in the creation, evaluation, and allocation of a wide set of social goods. This understanding of anonymity rules not only clarifies the law we have, but also and more importantly provides a novel and powerful set of design levers that can be used to develop innovative legal strategies for addressing problems of bias. 


For more on the book see:



LML Co-Hosts International Conference on Precision Medicine

last modified Apr 22, 2016 11:13 AM

On 7 and 8 April 2016, LML and the Centre for Medical Ethics & Law (The University of Hong Kong) held an international conference in Hong Kong on the legal and ethical challenges facing the realisation of precision medicine.

The aim of precision medicine is to revolutionise disease treatment and prevention by utilising personal variation in factors such as an individual’s genetic information, biochemistry, environment and lifestyle. Genomic data, for example, can be used to determine predispositions to particular diseases, predict the efficacy and safety of different treatment options, and develop drugs that are targeted to the fundamental biology of diseases rather than their clinical manifestations. In these and other ways, scientific and technological advances have the potential to bring about an unprecedented tailoring of medical treatment and health care to the individual characteristics of patients. 

In order to realise the full potential of precision medicine though, we must rethink components of the legal and ethical foundation on which it will be built. The reason for this is that our current legal and ethical frameworks were built with a very different generation of medical products and practices in mind. 

At this conference, world experts convened to identify and explore the challenges that precision medicine brings to the fore.  The first day of the conference explored implementation challenges, focusing on (1) The Healthcare System, and (2) Medical Treatment.   The second day explored development challenges, focusing on (1) Foundational Research, and (2) Translational Medicine.  Keynote addresses were given on each of these four topics by, respectively, Professor Hank Greely (Stanford University), Professor Glenn Cohen (Harvard University), Professor Bartha Knoppers (McGill University) and Professor Don Chalmers (University of Tasmania).

 A full conference report will follow shortly. In the meantime, details of the conference can found here.

LML and collaborators at The University of Hong Kong to convene international conference on "Precision Medicine: Legal and Ethical Challenges"

last modified Mar 08, 2016 10:32 AM

The Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences 

jointly with

The Centre for Medical Ethics & Law, The University of Hong Kong,

to hold international conference on

Precision Medicine: Legal and Ethical Challenges

7-8 April 2016

University of Hong Kong 


Precision medicine promises to revolutionize disease treatment and prevention by capitalizing on personal variation in factors including an individual’s genes, environment and lifestyle.  Genomic and molecular data, for example, can be used to determine predispositions to particular diseases, predict the efficacy and safety of different treatment options, and develop drugs that are targeted to the fundamental biology of diseases rather than their clinical manifestations.   In these and other ways, scientific and technological advances have the potential to bring about an unprecedented increase in the tailoring of medical treatment and health care to the individual characteristics of patients.

In order to realize the full potential of precision medicine, however, we must rethink components of the legal and ethical foundation on which it will be built.  The reason for this is that science is more fluid than the law and ethics with which we hope to shape its development, and our legal and ethical frameworks were built with a very different generation of medical products and practices in mind.  To identify and explore the answers to the challenges that arise from this gap, the world’s experts on these matters will convene at the University of Hong Kong on 7-8 April 2016.

For more on the conference, see here. 

Dr Jens Scherpe publishes "The Legal Status of Transsexual and Transgender Persons"

last modified Dec 04, 2015 04:31 PM

The need to allow a change of legal sex/gender in certain cases is no longer disputed in most jurisdictions, and for European countries, there is no question as to whether such a change should be allowed after the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Goodwin v. United Kingdom (Application no. 28957/95).  The controversy has therefore shifted to two further questions, which are explored in Dr Jens Scherpe's new edited volume, The Legal Status of Transsexual and Transgender Persons. 

The first question is what the requirements for such a change of legal sex/gender should be.  Many jurisdictions have legislated or developed an administrative approach to changing legal sex/gender, but the requirements differ significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, particularly with regard to age, nationality and marital status, as well as the medical and psychological requirements.  The latter in some jurisdictions still include surgery and sterility as a precondition, thus potentially forcing the persons concerned to choose between the recognition of their sex/gender identity and their physical integrity. 

The second question is what the full legal consequences of a change of legal sex/gender should be, for example with regard to existing legal relationships such as marriages and registered partnerships, but also concerning children and parentage. 

These two challenging questions have been the focus of an international comparative research project led by Dr Scherpe and run under the auspices of the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Medical Ethics and Law.  The culmination of this research is Dr Scherpe's new edited volume, which comprises not only national reports from more than 14 selected jurisdictions from around the globe, but also chapters on medical/psychological and Christian views and a comparative analysis that concludes with concrete recommendations regarding the legal status of transsexual and transgender persons.

Launch of HMS Cambridge

last modified Nov 23, 2015 11:31 AM

Health, Medicine & Society (HMS) Cambridge 

HMS Cambridge is a platform that facilitates cooperation, awareness and collaboration between researchers within Cambridge that are interested in cross-cutting 'human' dimensions of health, medicine and society. 

As well as offering a searchable directory of Cambridge researchers interested in this field, HMS Cambridge highlights case studies (projects with cross-cutting dimensions between health, medicine and society), in its 'Spotlight Series'.

HMS Cambridge is an initiative founded by Dr Kathy Liddell (LML, Faculty of Law), Professor Tim Lewens (Dept of History and Philosophy of Science), and Sam Murison, together with a panel of Cambridge academics working in this interdisciplinary field. 

If you would like to have your profile included in the HMS Cambridge directory you may join up here.

LML members receive second Philomathia Forum Award

last modified Nov 13, 2015 01:42 PM

A second Philomathia Forum Award has been received by LML members. With the support of this second award, Drs Matt Dyson and Kathy Liddell, together with Mr Kourosh Saeb-Parsy, a clinical consultant in organ transplantation, will organize a workshop on the legal issues surrounding the transplantation of sub-optimal organs.

Sub-optimal organs are used routinely and with increasing frequency as people live longer before donating their organs, and in view of the long waiting lists for organ transplants demands. However, not surprisingly, patient outcomes can be significantly poorer than with better quality organs. Indeed in 2013/2014, two deaths following transplantation of sub-optimal organs led to significant national media coverage and a Coroner’s inquest.

Presently there is an absence of clarity on the legal regime implications and limits of the use of sub-optimal organs. A detailed review of these issues is of the utmost importance for transplant clinicians. The Workshop will focus on two key relevant actions in tort: negligence and product liability. For example, it is of interest and some bewilderment for transplant clinicians to learn that defective organs that cause harm could give rise to ‘product liability’. It is also of interest to discuss recent developments in the legal criteria for valid consent in medical negligence in the sub-optimal transplant setting. A cross-cutting question is the impact a patient’s awareness of risks, and his or her informed consent to those risks, has on liability in both areas of tort law.

The Cambridge Transplant Unit is one of the biggest in Europe, performing a total of almost 300 kidney, liver, pancreas and intestinal transplants annually. The LML advances research and teaching on legal and ethical challenges at the forefront of medicine and the life sciences.

This workshop will continue recent work by Dyson, Saeb-Parsy, Liddell and others published in the Lancet (2015; 386: 719-21). It is a joint initiative of the University’s Faculty of Law and Clinical School.

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Centre receives Philomathia Forum Award

last modified Nov 13, 2015 01:08 PM

John Liddicoat and Dr Kathy Liddell were delighted to learn of a Philomathia Forum Award to continue their work on the intellectual property issues surrounding the realization of genomic medicine.

This Award will support a workshop in July 2016 that will interrogate more deeply:

  1. How, in the genomics sector, are firms capturing value, and in what ways are they using IP to assist them? In what ways does this differ between SMEs and multinationals?
  2. How are legal developments in IP affecting (directly or through international ‘ripples’) business models in the genomics sector? (For instance legal developments in the US decisions of Myriad, Prometheus and Ariosa Diagnostics v Sequenom, and counterpart international decisions such as the recent Australian High Court ruling in D’Arcy v Myriad).

The workshop will continue a series of events including a successful workshop on IP issues in genomic medicine organised jointly by the LML and CSaP in May 2015, and a further workshop to be held in early 2016, supported by funds from OpenPlant and the NIHR. The latter workshop is organised jointly with CSaP and two University Strategic Research Initiatives: Synthetic Biology and Public Policy. It will look specifically at the concepts of ‘open science’ and ‘open innovation’, interrogating the extent to which such policies are appropriate for the bioresources in plant synthetic biology and genomic medicine. 

John and Kathy will also be presenting research at an international conference on "The Legal and Ethical Challenges of Personalised Medicine" in April 2016. This conference is being jointly organized by LML and CMEL (the Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, University of Hong Kong). Further details will be available shortly.

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Vice Chancellor highlights Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences

last modified Oct 09, 2015 03:08 PM

In his annual speech marking the beginning of the new academic year, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, spoke about the importance of partnerships for the success of the University, highlighting the establishment of the innovative and multi-faceted Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences.

Professor Borysiewicz referred to local partnerships with the Cambridge colleges, the City of Cambridge and surrounding region, other universities, industry and philanthropists. The Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences is the culmination of partnerships in all these areas, building in particular on the generosity and foresight of two philanthropic donors.

“[P]hilanthropic partnerships are transformative.

Put simply, we can achieve far more with the support, passion and vision of our donors than we can on our own. That is not simply a question of financial arithmetic – it is about the wonderful changes that can occur when people of conviction, ability and means come together around shared objectives. It is about resolving the most complex global problems, generating a step-change in scale and accelerating outcomes beyond those made possible with normal funding streams.

At its most powerful, this process sees our supporters play a leading role in rethinking the world with us.

One such philanthropic partnership has enabled the creation of the Cambridge Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, drawing together two donors, several departments across two University schools, two Colleges and the University of Hong Kong to create an innovative and multifaceted partnership.

The aim of the new Centre is to complement the world-class biomedical research carried out by the University and help answer questions about the law reform we need to ensure the fair and effective delivery of modern medicine. For example, are we given the right sorts of choices about our births, deaths, medical treatments and medical records? Who owns or has rights in new genetic discoveries? How can we translate these discoveries into affordable new treatments in the quickest, safest and most ethical way?"