Prof. Cohen is one of the world’s leading experts on the intersection of bioethics (sometimes also called “medical ethics”) and the law, as well as health law. He also teaches civil procedure. He has advised the U.S. Vice President on reproductive rights, discussed medical AI policy with members of the Korean Congress, and lectured to legal, medical, and industry conferences around the world. His work has been frequently covered by or appeared in PBS, NPR, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Mother Jones, the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and many other media venues.
He was the youngest professor on the faculty at Harvard Law School (tenured or untenured) both when he joined the faculty in 2008 (at age 29) and when he was tenured as a full professor in 2013 (at age 34), though not the youngest in history.
Prof. Cohen’s current projects relate to big data, medical AI, health information technologies, mobile health, reproduction/reproductive technology, research ethics, organ transplantation, rationing in law and medicine, health policy, FDA law, COVID-19, translational medicine, and to medical tourism – the travel of patients who are residents of one country, the “home country,” to another country, the “destination country,” for medical treatment.
He is the author of more than 200 articles and chapters and his award-winning work has appeared in leading legal (including the Stanford, Cornell, and Southern California Law Reviews), medical (including the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA), bioethics (including the American Journal of Bioethics, the Hastings Center Report), scientific (Science, Cell, Nature Reviews Genetics) and public health (the American Journal of Public Health) journals, as well as Op-Eds in the New York Times, Washington Post, New Republic, Time Magazine, and other venues.
Cohen is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of more than 18 books. They include: Reproductive Technologies and the Law (Caroline Academic Press, 2022);The Future of Medical Device Regulation (Cambridge University Press, 2022) Consumer Genetic Technologies: Ethical and Legal Considerations (Cambridge University Press, 2021); Readings in Comparative Health Law and Bioethics (Carolina Academic Press, 2020); Disability, Health, Law, and Bioethics (Cambridge University Press, 2020); Transparency in Health and Health Care in the United States (Cambridge University Press, 2019); Health Care Law and Ethics (Aspen, 2018); Big Data, Health Law, and Bioethics (Cambridge University Press, 2018); Law, Religion, and Health in the United States (Cambridge University Press, 2017); Specimen Science (MIT Press, 2017); Nudging Health: Health Law and Behavioral Economics (John Hopkins University Press, 2016) The Oxford Handbook of U.S. Health Care Law (Oxford University Press, 2016); FDA in the Twenty-First Century: The Challenges of Regulating Drugs and New Technologies (Columbia University Press, 2015); Identified Versus Statistical Lives: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2015); Patients with Passports: Medical Tourism, Law, and Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2014); Human Subjects Research Regulation: Perspectives on the Future (MIT Press, 2014); The Globalization of Health Care: Legal and Ethical Issues (Oxford University Press, 2013).
For his law school teaching he was awarded the HLS Student Government Teaching and Advising Award in 2017. He also sometimes teaches courses at Harvard College and Harvard Medical School. For the public he created the free online Harvard X class Bioethics: The Law, Medicine, and Ethics of Reproductive Technologies and Genetics, which was nominated by Harvard for the Japan Prize. More than 97,000 students have taken the course so far. You can also watch his Tedx talk, Are There Non-Human Persons? Are There Non-Person Humans? He is also the faculty lead on Zero-L, an online course to help law students transition to law school that has been used by more than half of all U.S. law schools.
Prior to becoming a professor he served as a law clerk to Judge Michael Boudin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and as a lawyer for U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Appellate Staff, where he handled litigation in the Courts of Appeals and (in conjunction with the Solicitor General’s Office) in the U.S. Supreme Court. In his spare time (where he can find any!) he still litigates, having authored an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court for leading gene scientist Eric Lander in Association of Molecular Pathology v. Myriad, concerning whether human genes are patent eligible subject matter, a brief that was extensively discussed by the Justices at oral argument. Most recently he submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt (the Texas abortion case, on behalf of himself, Melissa Murray, and B. Jessie Hill). He also provides expert testimony in health law and bioethics litigation.
Cohen was selected as a Radcliffe Institute Fellow for the 2012-2013 year and by the Greenwall Foundation to receive a Faculty Scholar Award in Bioethics. He is also a Fellow at the Hastings Center, the leading bioethics think tank in the United States as well as being a fellow of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. He leads the Project on Precision Medicine, Artificial Intelligence, and the Law (PMAIL), which is part of the larger Centre for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law (CeBIL). He co-leads the Regulatory Foundations, Ethics, and Law Program of Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center program. He is also the lead on the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation (POPLAR). He previously served as one of the key co-investigators on the multi-million dollar Football Players Health Study at Harvard which is committed to improving the health of NFL players (for more on this work click here). He is also one of three editors-in-chief of the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, a peer-reviewed journal published by Oxford University Press and serves on the editorial board for the American Journal of Bioethics. He served on the Steering Committee for Ethics for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canadian counterpart to the NIH, and the Ethics Committee for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). He currently serves on the Ethics Committee of the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). He has also served on the bioethics advisory groups for life sciences companies like Otsuka, Illumina, and Bayer.
- J.D. Harvard Law School, 2003
- B.A. Bioethics (Philosophy) and Psychology University of Toronto, 2000
Academic Appointment and Employment History
- Appellate Attorney (Honors Program), U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Appellate Staff (2004 - 2006)
Briefed and argued cases in the Circuit Courts defending the United States and acts of Congress. Drafted briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court in conjunction with the Solicitor General’s Office. Advised the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, and other units of the Justice Department on numerous legal matters.
Washington, District of Columbia, United States
- Michael Boudin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, 2003 - 2004
Honors and Awards
- Greenwall Faculty Scholar in Bioethics (Awards)
This three year award was awarded to two individuals in 2012. It is open to junior faculty members in any department in any university. It is meant to enable the scholar to “carry out original research that will help resolve important policy and clinical dilemmas at the intersection of ethics and the life sciences. This research will also put Faculty Scholars in a position to help set public policy and standards of clinical practice.”, June 2012
FavoriteFDA in the Twenty-First Century: The Challenges of Regulating Drugs and New Technologies (Holly Fernandez Lynch & I. Glenn Cohen eds., Columbia Univ. Press 2015).
FavoriteI. Glenn Cohen, Patients with Passports: Medical Tourism, Law, and Ethics (Oxford Univ. Press 2015).
FavoriteHuman Subjects Research Regulation: Perspectives on the Future (I. Glenn Cohen & Holly Fernandez Lynch, eds., MIT Press 2014).
- I. Glenn Cohen, Genomic Politics and Equality, 2 Am. J. L. & Equal. 373 (2022) (reviewing Jennifer Hochschild, Genomic Politics: How the Revolution in Genomic Science Is Shaping Society (2021)).
- I. Glenn Cohen, Judith Daar & Eli Y. Adashi, What the Supreme Court’s abortion reversal means for in vitro fertilization, Boston Globe (June 30, 2022).