George J. Annas

William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor

Chairman and Professor of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights Department, School of Public Health
Professor of Law
Professor, School of Medicine

AB, magna cum laude, Harvard College
JD, Harvard University
MPH, Harvard University

Areas of Interest
Health Law

George Annas is the William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and chair of the Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights Department of Boston University School of Public Health. He is also a professor in the Boston University School of Medicine and the 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 (AB economics, ’67), Harvard Law School (JD ’70) and Harvard School of Public Health (MPH ’72), where he was a Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow in Medical Ethics. After graduating from law school, he 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 & Health Sciences at the law school.

Professor Annas is the author or editor of 19 books on health law and bioethics, including Worst Case Bioethics: Death, Disaster, and Public Health (2010), American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries (2005), The Rights of Patients (3d ed. 2004), and a play entitled Shelley’s Brain, that has been presented to bioethics audiences across the US 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. Since 1991 he 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, vice 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 Academy of Sciences. 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.


3 credits

Health law, bioethics, and human rights are converging in challenging ways, especially at the national level (in both legislation and constitutional adjudication), and the international law level. This seminar will explore the convergence and its meaning for the law and society through specific case studies including post-9/11 proposals for mass quarantine; torture and force- feeding justifications in the GWOT; genetic engineering and the new reproductive technologies; the relationship between abortion and the death penalty; and the meaning of the "right to health." This class is taught at BU School of Public Health. ** A student who fails to attend the initial meeting of a seminar, or to obtain permission to be absent from either the instructor or the Registrar, will be administratively dropped from the seminar. Students who waitlist for a seminar are required to attend the first seminar meeting to be considered for enrollment.

FALL 2017: LAW JD 910 A1 , Sep 6th to Dec 6th 2017
Days Start End Credits Instructors Bldg
Wed 8:00 am 10:50 am 3 George J. Annas
In the Media
View all profiles