George Annas, JD, MPH

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

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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    • Hashtag Prescription

      May 20, 2016

      Harper’s Magazine George Annas, School of Public Health The hidden cost of crowd-sourcing a cure… View full article quoting expert George Annas

    • Disney, fearing a scandal, tried to press journal to withdraw research paper

      April 8, 2016

      STAT News George Annas, School of Public Health The Walt Disney Company urged an academic journal to withdraw a nutritional study of children’s meals at Disney World last fall — a study it had funded — amid a public backlash over corporate involvement in scientific research, according to newly obtained emails… Expert quote: “The authors […]

    • Beware: Health Apps May Share Personal Medical Information With Third Parties

      March 14, 2016

      Legal Reader George Annas, School of Public Health Health Apps may share your personal medical information even if it has a privacy policy… Expert quote: “Most apps want to sell medical information to marketers and are likely to think fewer people would use their app if they knew this. Only patients who think it is […]

    • Health apps often lack privacy policies and share our data

      March 8, 2016

      Reuters George Annas, School of Public Health Just because a health app has a privacy policy doesn’t mean the data will remain private, an analysis of mobile tools for diabetes suggests… Expert quote: “Most apps want to sell medical information to marketers and are likely to think fewer people would use their app if they […]

    • When baby is due, genetic counselors seen downplaying false alarms

      March 6, 2016

      Boston Globe (subscription required) George Annas, School of Public Health Little Kate Summersgill certainly didn’t look like a child with Down syndrome — no upward slanting eyes or telltale flat facial features… View full article quoting expert George Annas

    • Psych Patients at This Hospital Were Tied Down and Ignored, Records Show

      March 3, 2016

      Vice News George Annas, School of Public Health For every 1,000 hours that psychiatric patients spent at a rural North Carolina hospital from July 1 through December 31, 2013, more than 800 of those hours were spent in some kind of physical restraint… Expert quote: “I think it’s just become recognized as just abusive, used […]

    • Medical Ethics vs. The Law: Get It Right

      February 22, 2016

      MedPage Today George Annas, School of Public Health The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the treat of ISIS, have presented an ongoing series of challenges to medical ethics, whether it involved the “role” of psychiatrists and psychologists in interrogations or questions about medical care of soldiers, enemy combatants, or civilians… View full […]

    • Does gene editing research pose a national security risk?

      February 16, 2016

      World Magazine George Annas, School of Public Health As bioethicists and scientists debate the ethics of genetic manipulation through processes like CRISPR and MRT, a recent poll shows genetic editing has yet to gain approval from the majority of Americans, including the U.S. director of national intelligence… Expert quote: “They support research because they think cures […]

    • STAT-Harvard poll: Americans say no to ‘designer babies’

      February 11, 2016

      STAT News George Annas, School of Public Health Most Americans oppose using powerful new technology to alter the genes of unborn babies, according to a new poll — even to prevent serious inherited diseases… View full article quoting George Annas

    • OPINION: Zika virus is not Ebola

      February 1, 2016

      Boston Globe (subscription required) By George Annas, School of Public Health Sandro Galea, School of Public Health Donald Thea, School of Public Health Just last week, the World Health Organization last week announced that the Zika virus was “spreading explosively.” Today, it declared Zika “a public health emergency of international concern.”… View full article by […]

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