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Shelly Simana

S.J.D. Candidate

LL.M. Advisor

ssimana at



The Law of the Singular Genome: Toward a Relational Approach for Genome Governance

One of the most ambitious scientific undertakings to unlock the human “genetic code” was the Human Genome Project, an international research program to map the 3.2 billion base pairs in the genome and to identify all human genes. The Project revealed that humans have approximately 20,000-25,000 protein-coding genes. It laid the groundwork for thousands of scientific studies associating genes with phenotypic traits and dozens of DNA sequencing technologies, genetic analysis methods, and gene editing tools.

While our ability to decode and manipulate the genome is advancing at an extraordinary pace, legislative and judicial institutions are struggling to find satisfying resolutions to the complex and pressing issues raised by what I term the “singular genome”—that is, the genome of a single individual. Legislative and judicial institutions rely on traditional rules and approaches that seem to be inadequate to deal with the unique set of challenges we are facing today. This dissertation attempts to map a path forward for “genome governance” and determine the legal principles that should undergird policies in this area. It seeks to create a new conceptual legal framework that would fully recognize the various attributes of the singular genome and provide an appropriate account for grappling with the different uses associated with it.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • Bioethics, Health Law, and Reproductive Rights with Professor Glenn Cohen, Harvard Law School, Principal Faculty Supervisor
  • Technology, Society, and Institutional Design with Professor Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School
  • Theories of Justice and Well-Being with Professor Nir Eyal, Schools of Public Health and Philosophy, Rutgers University

Additional Research Interests

  • Moral and Political Philosophy
  • Law and Technology
  • Property Law
  • Family Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • International Human Rights Law


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate 2018-Present
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M. Program 2016-2017
  • The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, LL.B. and B.A. in Government 2009–2013

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Harvard Kennedy School, 2019–Present, Research Associate, Program on Science, Technology and Society
  • Harvard Law School, 2019–Present, Affiliate, The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics
  • Harvard Law School, 2018–Present, Graduate Program Fellow, LL.M. Advisor
  • Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, 2018–2019, Teaching Fellow
  • The National Institutes of Health, Department of Bioethics, 2017–2018, Visiting Scholar
  • Harvard Law School, 2017–2018, Visiting Researcher
  • Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, 2017–2018, Teaching Assistant
  • Harvard Law School, 2016–2017, 2019–2020, Summer Academic Fellowship

Representative Publications

Additional Information

  • 2019–Present, Contributor at the Petrie-Flom Center Blog “Bill of Health.”
  • Languages: English, Hebrew, French, Arabic
  • LinkedIn Profile

Last Updated: February 24, 2021