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Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences

Faculty of Law

The Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences (LML) within the Faculty of Law has signed a ground-breaking collaboration agreement with the University of Copenhagen to address challenges in biomedical innovation law.

The collaboration is generously supported by a £4m grant awarded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation to Professor Timo Minssen, Director of the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law (CeBIL). The collaboration is the foundation for a 5-year Research Programme. Other key partners include Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, and University of Michigan Law School. Specialist advisors are based at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, the University of Oxford, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Hong Kong, the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Public Health, and the Copenhagen Centre for Regulatory Sciences.

Headed by Professor Professor Minssen (Professor of Biotechnology Law at UCPH, and previous Visiting Scholar of the LML), CeBIL will contribute to the translation of biomedical research into safe, effective and affordable therapies. The partnership will analyse the most significant challenges facing pharmaceutical innovation and public health from a cross-disciplinary perspective, drawing on legal, biomedical, societal, and economic perspectives.

Dr Kathy Liddell (Director of the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences) is Cambridge’s Principle Investigator. Welcoming the partnership, she said, “The overall vision and aim of CeBIL is well-matched with the research strategy of our own Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences; which was founded to advance our understanding of legal and ethical controversies at the forefront of medicine and the life sciences. The research undertaken by CeBIL will make a pioneering contribution to the field of biomedical innovation. We are delighted to be part of the enterprise”.

Drawing on her expertise in IP rights and the translation of medical discoveries, Dr Liddell will head CeBIL’s study on Repurposing Known Drugs (one of its five core studies), and will make significant contribution to its study on Synergy and Policy Solutions (a sixth overarching study). Dr Liddell said, “We look forward to appointing world leading research associates to work on the projects in Cambridge and to inviting world experts to speak at our annual symposia. We are fortunate to have an unmatchable environment for discussing the legal, ethical and economic challenges of biomedical innovation.”

Dr Jeffrey Skopek (Deputy Director of the LML) is a Co-Investigator at Cambridge. Speaking about the potential impact of the grant, he said: “Rapid advances in medicine and the life sciences, alongside changing societal attitudes towards health and medical care, pose deeply challenging questions of law, ethics, and policy. If CeBIL can help solve some of the challenges facing pharmaceutical innovation, the public benefit will be substantial.”

In developing this new research programme, LML will build on the foundations developed by a research group in the Centre that has been studying intellectual property issues surrounding genomic medicine for the past two years.  This group (consisting of Dr Kathy Liddell, Dr John Liddicoat, Dr Mateo Aboy, Dr Cristina Crespo, and Mr Matt Jordan) has published the results of some of its research in two articles in Nature Biotechnology: ‘Myriad’s impact on gene patents’ and ‘After Myriad, what makes a gene patent claim ‘markedly different’ from nature?’.

In addition, LML will draw on the rich intellectual environment provided by the wide range of Cambridge academics in the humanities and social sciences who are conducting research with relevance to biomedical innovation, past, present and future. These include colleagues in the Centre for Intellectual Property and Innovation Law (co-directed by Professor Lionel Bently and Dr Henning Grosse Ruse-Khan); the Cambridge Academy of Therapeutic Sciences; the Department for History and Philosophy of Science; and the PHG Foundation


CeBIL launched formally on January 1st 2018.

For more information, please visit the CeBIL website.