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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    • Debating Compassionate Access To Experimental Drugs For The Terminally Ill

      May 14, 2015

      WBUR “Radio Boston” George Annas, School of Public Health There is a wrenching debate that affects people who are desperately ill and running out of options… Listen to audio of expert George Annas 

    • Experts Media Alert – Discharge proceedings against Navy Nurse for Refusing to Force-Feed at Gitmo Dropped

      May 13, 2015

      The U.S. Navy announced that a Naval nurse who refused to force-feed prisoners at Guantanamo will not face discharge proceedings and can now return to work. George Annas, Chair and Professor of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights at Boston University’s School of Public Health, offers the following comments on the decision: Ever since 9/11, the US military and […]

    • In Their Own Words – George Annas

      May 1, 2015

      Israeli Airlift of “Surrogate Babies” from Nepal Raises Ethical Concerns By George Annas The earthquake in Nepal has exposed not only the poverty of the country, but a form of human trafficking encouraged by poverty and sex discrimination: the so-called surrogate mother business. In this business, men from wealthy countries, such as Israel, are put […]

    • Vergara Lawsuit Raises Ethical Questions About Frozen Embryos

      April 30, 2015

      WBZ George Annas, School of Public Health The former fiancé of Sofia Vergara is suing the high profile actress to protect two frozen embryos they made together… Expert quote: “Both people have to agree. If they don’t agree the courts maintain the status quo to keep the embryos frozen. It’s not his embryo it’s their […]

    • Chinese researchers alter embryo DNA: Do results cross ethical tripwires?

      April 26, 2015

      Christian Science Monitor George Annas, School of Public Health For the first time, scientists have altered genes in human embryos and allowed them to briefly develop… Expert quote: “If we keep waiting until it can be done, is that too late? It would be nice if we could all agree on a line we don’t […]

    • Why the Vaccine Debate Is Unlikely to Land in the Courtroom

      February 7, 2015

      ABCNews.com George Annas, School of Public Health As the measles virus spreads along with the tension over whether parents should vaccinate their children, it’s unlikely any confrontations will extend beyond the playground and into the courtroom, lawyers say… Expert quote: “I think you could make an argument that you have a moral responsibility, but it would be […]

    • CIA report describes medical personnel’s intimate role in harsh interrogations

      December 14, 2014

      Washington Post George Annas, School of Public Health As the tempo of harsh CIA interrogation of terrorism suspects increased in early 2003, an agency medical officer observed to a colleague that their role of providing an “institutional conscience and the limiting factor” for the program had clearly changed… Expert quote: “The medical community can do […]

    • Drug windfall raises questions for foundations

      November 20, 2014

      Marketplace George Annas, School of Public Health The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation made a blockbuster announcement Wednesday: It’s receiving $3.3 billion for selling its royalty rights for a drug manufactured by Vertex Pharmaceuticals… Expert quote: “On the big picture, it’s very similar to what almost all disease foundations do. Most of them fund research by academics, but it’s not a […]

    • Nurse’s ordeal reveals uncoordinated state, federal Ebola policies

      October 28, 2014

      Al Jazeera America George Annas, School of Public Health The first public protests by a U.S. citizen forcibly quarantined over Ebola fears has highlighted how politics is complicating the response of state and federal authorities to the deadly virus, say public health experts and civil rights advocates… Expert quote: “I think the politicians panicked, and […]

    • US gives safety steps on Ebola

      October 28, 2014

      Boston Globe (subscription required) George Annas, School of Public Health New federal guidelines for preventing the spread of Ebola recommend tougher restrictions for those at greatest risk of infection, but stop short of the strict quarantines that several states imposed in recent days… Expert quote: “They were nervous that if something happened they wouldn’t be seen […]

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