On March 29, the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School celebrated its first decade and kicked off the next with a conference that focused on the future of health law and policy.
The day-long celebration featured a series of panel discussions on major trends, developments, and open questions in the fields of health law policy, biotechnology, and bioethics.
The event was directed by Harvard Law School Professor I. Glenn Cohen ’03 and Holly Fernandez Lynch, faculty director and executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center. Alan Weil ’89, Editor-in-Chief of Health Affairs, delivered the keynote address. Conference panelists included many health law experts who are prominent alumni of the Petrie-Flom fellowship program.
Since its founding ten years ago, the Center has grown from a small think tank designed to respond to the need for legal scholarship at the intersection of medicine, science, and law, to a leading research program that boasts a highly regarded post-doctoral fellowship program and a variety of sponsored research projects addressing research regulation and ethics, the health of professional football players, and more. The Center also hosts a prodigious number of conferences, workshops, and lectures, and a range of independent scholarship, including an academic journal on bioethics, a series of books on health law policy, and a prominent “Bill of Health” blog.
In his opening remarks, Harvard Law School Professor Einer Elhauge ’86, who served as the Center’s founding faculty director from 2005 to 2008, said one of the initial aims of the Center was to create more faculty interested in health law policy and bioethics. “Health law has a large entry barrier. There’s a huge amount of technical knowledge you need,” he said. “When we began there was a relative shortage, not just at Harvard but elsewhere. The idea was that if we could jumpstart it by academic fellowships, we could not only get some good health law scholars here at Harvard, but seed the rest of the legal academy.”
Ninety-seven academic, student, and senior fellows have participated in the program since its founding. Today, Einer noted, former Petrie-Flom fellows are teaching at top schools around the country and internationally, including MIT, UCLA, and the University of Cambridge. Both Cohen and Lynch, the Center’s current leadership team, were part of the Petrie-Flom Center’s inaugural fellowship class of 2006.
The late Joseph H. Flom, a successful corporate attorney and a founding partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, founded the Center in 2005, with the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation. Judi Sorenson Flom, philanthropist and widow of the late benefactor, attended the anniversary celebration and shared her late husband’s vision for the Center. “All philanthropy is personal,” she said. “Joe’s desire to make things better was a product of three things: Love of the law, extraordinary talent and his personal story.” She said Flom wanted to found a center that positioned Harvard Law School at the forefront of tackling the complex issues facing health law policy and ethics. “Joe was an outsider and in this society, the law is the one instrument that can alter the status quo.”
Dean Martha Minow reflected on Flom’s vision and the Center’s 10 years of work in health law. She praised the bridges the Center has built within Harvard, and with policy and medical communities.
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Panel 1: Health Care Coverage, Costs, and Fragmentation
Health care coverage, costs and fragmentation was the focus of conversation for the first panel, which featured Harvard Law School Professor Einer Elhauge, founding director of the Petrie-Flom Center; Harvard Law School Clinical Professor Robert Greenwald, director of HLS’s Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation; Allison Hoffman, a professor of law at UCLA and an academic fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center from 2008 to 2010; and Abigail Moncrieff, an associate professor of law at Boston University and an academic fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center from 2007 to 2009. The panel was moderated by Andrew Klaber MBA ’09 JD ’10, president and founder of Even Ground, an international nonprofit that annually provides support for children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.
Panel 2: Bioethics and Law
A panel on Bioethics and Law featured Harvard Law School Professor and current Petrie-Flom Center Faculty Director I. Glenn Cohen; Holly Fernandez Lynch, executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center; Michelle N. Meyer 06, assistant professor of Bioethics at Clarkson University and Director of Bioethics Policy in the Clarkson–Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Bioethics Program and an academic fellow at Petrie-Flom from 2010 to 2013; Candice Player ’09, assistant professor of law at Northwestern University; Amanda C. Pustilnik, professor of law at University of Maryland and a senior fellow in law and applied neuroscience at the Petrie-Flom Center from 2014 to 2015; and Jeffrey Skopek, a lecturer in medical law, ethics and policy at the University of Cambridge and an academic fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center from 2011 to 2014. The panel was moderated by John McGoldrick LL.B ’66, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and Zimmer Biomet Holdings.
Keynote: Closing the Gap Between Health Law and Health Policy
Alan Weil MPP/JD ’89, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs, delivered the conference’s keynote address. He discussed “Closing the gap between health law and health policy.” He previously served as the executive director of the National Academy for State Health Policy, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research and policy organization.
Panel 3: Health Innovation Policy and Regulating Novel Technology
This discussion featured Timo Minssen, an associate law professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Information and Innovation Law and a 2014 Petrie-Flom visiting scholar; W. Nicholson Price II, an assistant professor of law University of New Hampshire School and a Petrie-Flom academic fellow from 2012 to 2014; Assistant professor at MIT Sloan School of Management Benjamin N. Roin ’05, a Petrie-Flom academic fellow from 2006 to 2008, and a former Petrie-Flom faculty co-director; Rachel E. Sachs ’13, a current academic fellow at Petrie- Flom, 2014-2016, and a student fellow in 2012-2013; and Melissa Wasserman, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law and a Petrie-Flom academic fellow from 2009 to 2011. Neil Flanzraich ’68, Cantex Pharmaceuticals, moderated.
Panel 4: Empirical Health Law
The final panel of the day featured Michael Frakes ’05, an associate professor at Northwestern University School of Law and a Petrie-Flom fellow from 2009 to 2011; Rebecca Haffajee MPH/JD ’06, a fellow in pharmaceutical policy research at Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Institute, and a Petrie-Flom fellow from 2010 to 2011; Christopher T. Robertson ’07, a professor of law at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law who was a student fellow at Petrie-Flom from 2006-2007 and an academic fellow from 2008 to 2010; Kathryn Zeiler, a professor at Boston University School of Law and a 2010 Petrie-Flom senior fellow. Dennis Langer ’83, Georgetown University School of Medicine, moderated.