Projects

Professor Thérèse Murphy

I am part of a funded project called ‘Inside ELSI’. The acronym ELSI stands for ‘ethical, legal and social implications’: it stems from the Human Genome Project, and it was designed to spark fresh thinking on how best to regulate new health technologies. What ELSI suggests is that it is foolish to have a model based on ‘science first, implications later’; what we need is a model in which science and its implications are interwoven. To test this, Inside ELSI looks at actual practices within key regulatory bodies. We’ve started with the internationally-respected Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, and we plan to extend our focus over time.   

In other projects I have been analysing lots of court decisions and UN documents relating to human rights and new technologies. One of these projects asks: How does the European Court of Human Rights see the relationship between law and bioethics? I’m looking forward to feedback on one of the first pieces to emerge from this research: it's an essay in Molly Land and Jay Aronson's New Technologies for Human Rights Law and Practice, and the entire book is open access.

My key focus over the next year is a project on the need for greater legal literacy in discussions about new technologies. I spoke about this at a UN Human Rights Council side-event and wrote a short think piece about it here.

 

Dr Patrycja Dabrowska-Kłosińska

I am pursuing an ambitious research agenda in the framework of the THEMIS project entitled Protecting Human Rights and Public Health in Global Pandemics: A Map of the Standards Applied by EU and US Courts, which is funded under the EU H2020 Marie Sklodowska Curie scheme. The project is a reaction to (i) the increased risk of infectious disease pandemics and (ii) the development of preparedness laws and securitisation of health where individual rights are often assumed to be obstacles to public health.

The project focuses on the EU/US case-law and asks: against a backdrop of global pandemic threat, how do judges resolve the conflict between individual human rights and public health protection? Via THEMIS I aim to develop the first comparative map of standards of review applied by EU and US courts when resolving those conflicts in the hope of contributing to a fairer pandemic preparedness in the global context.

The project is both interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral. It features workshops involving academics and policy experts, and it brings together scholars from diverse disciplines who traditionally work separately (through its dissemination strategy ‘Doctors meet Lawyers’). I am delighted to have this opportunity to inspire stimulating discussions through networking with different colleagues and experts.

 

Professor Anne-Maree Farrell

I have recently begun a three-year funded project with colleagues based at the Australian Research Centre for Sex Health and Society. The project examines the relationship between technology, sexuality and regulation. It explores how new technologies are transforming the ways in which people seek and enact sexual connections and experience sexual intimacy and involves both normative and empirical research. The project is funded by the Australian Research Council.

I am also completing a funded project examining regulatory models involving the donation and supply of human tissue, which includes an examination of the relationship between regulation and human rights in the use of human tissue. The project was also funded by the Australian Research Council.

I have also begun work on a new research project which examines health security, rights and the regulation of risk. This picks up on my enduring interest in the political context in which we engage in the management of risk, with a particular focus on developments at EU and global levels. I link in my work on human bodies and tissue in exploring the broader issues involved in the regulation of health security.

 

Dr Mark Flear

I’ve just started working on a project I call ‘Shaping New Technologies and Futures: EU Law, Expectations and Biomedicine’. The research agenda for this project is still developing, but essentially I am building on my previous work to develop how we think about biopolitics. One of the key focal points is the role of hope and promise in attempts to regulate and through it to produce and legitimate institutional identity and socio-political orders. To develop my thinking I am engaging with a really great network, including colleagues in other universities and policymakers around Europe.

I continue to be interested in European law and new health technologies, which was the focus of an exciting ESRC-funded project I worked on with Thérèse, Anne-Maree and Prof Tammy Hervey. We ran a really stimulating series of seminars, developed a wide network including scholars and regulators from across Europe, and published a book with OUP at the end of the project. It was great working as a team on a new area. I’m taking that work forward through my role in the conference ‘Healthcare Disparities: Disruptive Healthcare Technologies and the Patient’, 13-15 June 2019, University of Manchester. I am head of the sub-theme ‘Regulating innovation (or disruptive technologies)’. I’ll also be a key speaker at the postgraduate event attached to the main conference.

I draw on the expertise I developed during the new health technologies project in my role as a member of the Northern Ireland DNA Database Governance Board. I also use it to teach about law and new health technologies, both at QUB Law and elsewhere. 

 

Dr Amrei Müller

I am conducting research for the project ‘Healthcare in Conflict: Do armed groups have obligations and responsibilities?’ funded by a three-year Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship.

The aim of the project is to critically examine the obligations and responsibilities of non-state armed groups to secure access to health care of populations under their influence or control in armed conflicts, and how these relate to the obligations and responsibilities of states and international organisations. By clarifying these obligations and responsibilities, the project aims to improve the provision of health services to conflict-affected populations.

 

Dr Clare Patton

My project is funded by the ESRC and I am under the mentorship of Professor Thérèse Murphy in the Health and Human Rights Unit. The project is called Towards Better Regulation of Breast Cancer Cause-Related Marketing and the objective is to interview women with breast cancer to collect their opinions about breast cancer cause-related marketing campaigns (aka ‘pink ribbon’ campaigns).

This study is the first socio-legal analysis in the UK which seeks to understand how women with breast cancer are affected (in terms of how they behave, and how they feel under pressure by others to behave) by ‘pink ribbon’ campaigns, and what changes (if any) they believe should be made to ensure corporate-sponsored breast cancer campaigns accurately reflect the reality of the breast cancer experience. I will use this data to inform a policy report that I am drafting which seeks to better regulate cause-related marketing campaigns. The policy report will be launched at an international conference that I will host at QUB Law in September 2019.

 

Dr Clemens Rieder

I am interested in the concept of solidarity as a basis for health law. The question which currently haunts me in particular is whether a conceptually plausible, or even convincing, answer can be found that solidarity can be scaled up from the national to the supranational level. What stands in between the national and the supranational level are boundaries, which constitute the second leg of my current research interest.

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