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Shelly Simana
ssimana at


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 genetic material and information. 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 genetic material and information and provide an appropriate account for grappling with the different uses associated with these resources.

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

  • Property Law
  • Torts
  • Public Health Law
  • Law and Technology
  • Family Law
  • Moral and Political Philosophy
  • Science & Technology Studies


  • 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

  • Stanford Law School, Center for Law and the Biosciences, 2022–Present, Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Spring 2022, Teaching Fellow
  • Harvard Medical School, Fall 2021 – Spring 2022, Teaching Fellow
  • Harvard Law School, 2018–2022, Legal Research, Writing and Analysis I Teaching Fellow, Graduate Program Fellow, and LL.M. Advisor 
  • Harvard Kennedy School, 2019–2021, Research Associate, Program on Science, Technology and Society
  • Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Fall 2018, 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, Fall 2017, Teaching Fellow
  • Harvard Law School, 2018, 2020, Summer Academic Fellowship

Representative Publications

  • Shelly Simana, Gene Stewards: Rethinking Genome Governance, 14 UC IRVINE L. REV. __ (forthcoming 2024)
  • Shelly Simana, Malleable Morality: Re-Shaping Moral Judgments in Health Policymaking, 51 J.L. MED. & ETHICS 342 (forthcoming 2023) 
  • Shelly Simana, Genetic Property Governance, 25 YALE J.L. & TECH. 144 (2023)
  • Shelly Simana and Vardit Ravitsky, Rewriting the Genetic Bond: The Impact of Gene Editing on Our Understanding of Genetic Parenthood, 37 BIOETHICS 265 (2023)
  • Shelly Simana, Creating Life After Death: Should Posthumous Reproduction Be Legally Permissible Without the Deceased’s Prior Consent?, 5 J.L. & BIOSCIENCES 329 (2018)
  • I. Glenn Cohen and Shelly Simana, Regulation of Stem Cell Travel, 4 CURRENT STEM CELL REP. 220 (2018) 

Additional Information

Last Updated: August 14, 2023