George Annas, JD, MPH

William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and Chair
Chair, Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights

Expertise:
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Education:

Harvard College AB ’67
Harvard Law School JD ’70
Harvard School of Public Health MPH ’72

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George Annas is the William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights of Boston University School of Public Health, and Professor in the Boston University School of Medicine, and School of Law. He is the cofounder of Global Lawyers and Physicians, a transnational professional association of lawyers… Read more

George Annas is the William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights of Boston University School of Public Health, and Professor in the Boston University School of Medicine, and School of Law. He is the cofounder of Global Lawyers and Physicians, a transnational professional association of lawyers and physicians working together to promote human rights and health. He has degrees from Harvard College (A.B. economics, ’67), Harvard Law School (J.D. ’70) and Harvard School of Public Health (M.P.H. ’72), where he was a Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow in Medical Ethics.

After graduating from law school, Annas clerked for Justice John V. Spalding of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and came to Boston University in 1972 as the Director of the Center for Law and Health Sciences at the law school. Professor Annas is the author or editor of sixteen books on health law and bioethics, including American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries (2005), The Rights of Patients (3d ed. 2004), Some Choice: Law, Medicine, and the Market (1999), Standard of Care: The Law of American Bioethics (1993), and Judging Medicine (1987), and a play, entitled “Shelley’s Brain,” that has been presented to bioethics audiences across the U.S. and in Australia.

Professor Annas has been called “the father of patient rights,” “the doyen of American medico-legal analysts,” and a “national treasure.” Professor Annas wrote a regular feature on “law and bioethics” for the Hastings Center Report from 1976 to 1991, and a regular feature on “Public Health and the Law” in the American Journal of Public Health from 1982 to 1992 and since 1991 has written a regular feature on “Legal Issues in Medicine” for the New England Journal of Medicine, now under the title “Health Law, Ethics, and Human Rights.” He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the Institute of Medicine, co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Health Rights and Bioethics (Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section) and a member of the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academies. He has also held a variety of government regulatory posts, including Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, Chair of the Massachusetts Health Facilities Appeals Board, and Chair of the Massachusetts Organ Transplant Task Force.

    In the Media

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    • We’re tantalizingly close to a new era in childbirth

      August 24, 2015

      Tech Insider George Annas, School of Public Health Like many people of her generation, Miriam Zoll wanted to wait to have kids… Expert quote: “I think the physician has got to worry about the baby too. The industry’s goal should be to act in the best interest of the child that you’re trying to produce.” […]

    • Secret videos in abortion wars are nothing new

      August 20, 2015

      McClatchy Newspapers George Annas, School of Public Health The undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials matter-of-factly discussing the sale of fetal tissue and organs may feel like a new political scandal, but the controversy and the hidden-camera reporting that sparked it are both well-worn political retreads… Expert quote:“This report on fetal tissue sales from 2000 […]

    • We might not want to know the dark secrets lurking in our genes

      August 17, 2015

      Tech Insider George Annas, School of Public Health Genetics has advanced to the point that we can sequence a person’s genome, outlining their entire genetic blueprint, for a couple thousand dollars — perhaps even less — in approximately a day (provided you already have the million-dollar machine on hand)… Expert quote: “That’s certainly the vision […]

    • Planned Parenthood loses biomed partner

      August 16, 2015

      Boston Herald George Annas, School of Public Health A California-based biomedical company pulled out of an agreement with Planned Parenthood this week in an apparent attempt to distance itself from the recent fetal tissue controversy sparked by undercover videos even as an editorial in a major medical journal — co-authored by local doctors — vehemently […]

    • It’s time for an uncomfortable discussion about what it really means to engineer a ‘better baby’

      August 12, 2015

      Business Insider George Annas, School of Public Health New genetic editing technologies that are becoming more refined every day could soon allow us to make edits to the genome of a human embryo,… Expert quote: “Humans have more flaws than we know what to do with,” says Annas. “One of them is that we don’t […]

    • Designer babies are coming — here’s why some think that’s a good thing

      August 4, 2015

      Business Insider George Annas, School of Public Health When two people decide to have a child, they’re making a decision to pass on their DNA to a baby, with all the advantages and disadvantages written into that code… View full article quoting expert George Annas  

    • Fetal Tissue From Abortions for Research Is Traded in a Gray Zone

      July 27, 2015

      New York Times (subscription required) George Annas, School of Public Health Videos released by an anti-abortion group during the last two weeks have drawn attention to a little-known practice: the buying, selling and research use of fetal tissue acquired from abortion clinics… Expert quote: “They won’t be real happy that this is all out in […]

    • What’s right, wrong and illegal in handling fetal tissue

      July 25, 2015

      Modern Healthcare George Annas, School of Public Health Two Republican state representatives want to ban the sale, transfer and experimentation of aborted fetuses in Wisconsin… Expert quote: “They’re clearly doing it to make money, they’re not non-profit organizations, they’re for-profit. There’s this whole business going on that not many people know about and it’s unclear […]

    • Genetic testing is taking medicine to an all new extreme

      July 15, 2015

      Business Insider George Annas, School of Public Health Preventing disease is a standard goal of medicine… View full article quoting expert George Annas  

    • A booming medical industry in the US is almost totally unregulated

      July 7, 2015

      Business Insider George Annas, School of Public Health More American children conceived through in vitro fertilization were born in 2013 than ever before, an estimated 1.5% of all births, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… Expert quote: “It’s pretty loose out there.” View full article

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