Symposia and Events

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Since it was founded in 2002, the Center has become a leading resource for interdisciplinary dialogue among theoreticians and practitioners. Its symposia, seminars and workshops are designed to foster collaborative work on the most critical issues of the day.

Past Events

Fifth Annual Disability and Civil Rights Clinic Breakfast Roundtable

Friday, March 15
8:30 a.m. Continental breakfast
9 a.m. Program commences

Brooklyn Law School
Feil Hall, Forchelli Conference Center, 22nd Floor
205 State St.

RSVP Online

The event is free and open to the public.

About the Roundtable Discussion
Join us for breakfast and conversation to explore recent legal and policy developments that impact adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Topics include OPWDD & Recent Changes in Service Delivery, Criminal Justice, Sexuality & Relationships, Disability & Education, 17-A Guardianship and Supported Decision Making, and Right to Family. Participants will join experts in the field to engage in a facilitated conversation about recent changes and developments in these intersecting areas. As always, the roundtable will offer a collaborative environment to learn about the latest developments in the law, exchange ideas, establish new community partnerships, and explore solutions for change.

Individuals with disabilities, legal advocates, family members, community organizations, and government entities are encouraged to attend.

View facilitator bios.

Co-sponsored by the Disability and Civil Rights Clinic: Advocating for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the Center for Health, Science and Public Policy

Venue is Wheelchair Accessible

Symposium: The Gift and Weight of Genomic Knowledge - In Search of the Good Biocitizen

Thursday, October 4 and Friday, October 5

About the Symposium

“This knowledge is irrevocable.”
So reads an opening line in the terms-of-service agreement for 23andMe, a leading direct-to-consumer genetic testing company. This remarkable phrase attests to an increasing recognition of the role genomic knowledge plays in shaping human life. On the one hand, genomic knowledge is a gift, creating novel insights into the genetic drivers of disease and into the geographical paths of our ancestors. On the other, it is a weight, creating new obligations, new forms of social classification, and new forms of surveillance. Thus, we are faced with a fundamental question: how can we live well in the face of knowledge that can change the criteria, conditions, and lived experience of life? Or, as we formulate that question for this conference, what is a good biocitizen?

This conference aims to take a step back and ask: In what ways can genomic knowledge promote human flourishing, and in what ways might it thwart it? What are the conditions that shape the biocitizen today, and how ought one act in light of these? Heeding not only the lessons of this history, but also our contemporary socio-political context, we wish to gain clarity on how genomics has shaped and is shaping lived experience. How, against the background of such knowledge, might we leverage genomic knowledge toward a life lived well in health for all?

View agenda

Catherine Bliss, UC San Francisco
Catherine Clune-Taylor, Princeton University
Melinda Hall, Stetson University
Eva Kittay, SUNY Stony Brook
Jessica Kolopenuk, University of Alberta
Colin Koopman, University of Oregon
Leslie Larkin, Northern Michigan University
Alondra Nelson, Columbia University
Carolyn Neuhaus, The Hastings Center
Jenny Reardon, UC Santa Cruz
Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, Stanford University
Joe Stramondo, San Diego State University

Sponsored by Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Health, Science and Public Policy and The Hastings Center. Co-sponsored by Columbia University’s Department of Medical Humanities and Ethics and Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics.

Recent Events

Symposium: Liability for Defective Drug and Medical Device Design

Friday, February 9, 2018

About the Symposium
Since the advent of the modern products liability era, courts have had difficulty with claims alleging that drugs or medical devices were defectively designed. Early decisions took the position that such cases were barred by Section 402A, comment k. However, later cases found such immunity for pharmaceutical manufacturers to be too broad. In its stead, courts have adopted a variety of tests to determine what constitutes defective design. Restatement, Third of Torts, promulgated a test for defective drug and medical device design that has met with limited acceptance. In addition, the United States Supreme Court has suggested that design defect claims may be subject to federal preemption because any suggested alternative design would have to meet FDA approval.

This symposium will examine why plaintiffs seek to base claims on defective drug design and the most recent case law on the subject. It will take an in-depth look at the role federal preemption may play in the resolution of what standard must be met to allow for a drug or medical device design case to proceed.

View full agenda.

Sponsored by the Center for Health, Science and Public Policy and Arent Fox LLP.

Fourth Annual Disability and Civil Rights Clinic Breakfast Roundtable

Friday, November 17

The Disability and Civil Rights Clinic Roundtable was held to advocate for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the right to sexual self-advocacy, housing security, access to government benefits, the right to parent, protection of due process rights and alternatives to guardianship.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Health, Science and Public Policy and Disability and Civil Rights Clinic

Health Law Discussion: Money Changes Everything - The Congressional Budget Process and Health Reform

Thursday, October 19

Timothy M. Westmoreland
Professor from Practice
Georgetown University Law Center

About the Lecture
It is hardly surprising that money plays a role in lawmaking. However, it may come as a surprise how central a role money plays and the extent of its impact on legislative choices. Professor Timothy Westmoreland will examine how the congressional budget process has influenced health policy debates, including recent debates regarding the Affordable Care Act and efforts to repeal and replace it.

Professor Westmoreland is a highly regarded expert on issues of public health and health finance policy. He served for many years as Counsel to the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment in the U.S. House of Representatives and later as the Director of the Medicaid program at HCFA. He also served as counsel to the Koop-Kessler Advisory Committee on Tobacco Policy and Public Health and as an advisor to both the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. He has also been the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator in Health Policy Award, working on budget process and health policy.

Sponsored by the Center for Health, Science & Public Policy

Health Law Presentation - What Now? The Role of Diverse Health Managers During the Trump Presidency

Tuesday, February 28

Speaker: Cliff Barnes, Member, Epstein, Becker & Green

Clifford E. Barnes is a Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice in the firm's Washington, D.C., and New York offices and serves as Co-Chair of the firm's Health Plan Compliance Group. Barnes has been employed by the firm for over 30 years and represents providers, including hospitals, hospital systems, nursing homes, home health, hospice, ancillary service companies; managed care companies, concentrating in Medicare and Medicaid; and non-profit associations. Barnes is the Co-Founder of Medicaid Health Plans of America, Inc., and currently serves as Vice Chair of the Accountable Care Organization Task Force of the American Health Lawyers Association. In 2016, Barnes was selected to the Washington D.C. Super Lawyers list in the area of Health Care. He was also recommended in The Legal 500 United States (2016), for Health Insurers.

The program was sponsored by the New York Regional Office of the National Association of Health Services Executives, NYSBA – Health Law Section, and the Center for Health, Science and Public Policy.

The National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) is a non-profit association of Black health care executives founded in 1968 for the purpose of promoting the advancement and development of Black health care leaders, and elevating the quality of health care services rendered to minority and underserved communities. NAHSE's purpose is to ensure greater participation of minority groups in the health field. Its basic objective is to develop and maintain a strong viable national body to more effectively have input in the national health care delivery system. It has provided a vehicle for Blacks to effectively participate in the design, direction and delivery of quality health care to all people.

The Center for Health, Science & Public Policy offers students the opportunity to study health law in a collaborative environment. Students are exposed to a rich and rigorous curriculum, which provides them with the substantive knowledge and practical skills necessary to become excellent lawyers in fields related to health and science. A strong intellectual and service community, the Center extends its reach beyond the classroom, with externships at leading public and non-profit organizations in the New York metropolitan area. These are organizations whose missions include health care delivery, access to care, public health or broader public policy concerns. Through health law externships, students gain real-world experience, address difficult challenges in law and policy, and make meaningful contributions.

Panel and Roundtable Discussion: Neuroimaging, Consciousness, and the Law

Friday, February 3

About the Panel Discussion
New technologies, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), are beginning to provide more accurate methods of measuring experience and, in turn, are leading to a new vision of how law, medicine and ethics should confront the realities of consciousness, pain, suffering and disorders of the brain. This program explored the implications of advances in neuroscience and suggested ways in which the law should more appropriately advance the rights of individuals and the responsibilities of society.
Joseph J. Fins, The E. William Davis, Jr. M.D. Professor of Medical Ethics and Chief of the Division of Medical Ethics, Weill Cornell Medical College

Adam Kolber, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

Zachary E. Shapir
o, Presidential Scholar, The Hastings Center; Visiting Fellow in Law & Neuroscience, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior

Stacey A. Tovino
, Lehman Professor of Law and Director, UNLV Health Law Program, UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law
The Center for Health, Science and Public Policy serves as a resource to members of the law school community, health service providers, and policymakers by providing programs in three core areas: scholarship and faculty development, legal education and student services, and public education and community service.

  • April 22, 2016

    Professor Cynthia Godsoe, Professor Marsha Garrison, and Professor Karen Porter held a program and luncheon to celebrate the accomplishments of the Family Law & Policy Fellows and Health Law & Policy Fellows.  

    The fellows engaged in independent research of their own design and presented their work. This year’s presenting fellows included Jessica Cahill ’16, Justin Crayton ’17, Dexin Deng ’16, Benjamin Edlin ’16, Brittany Geiger ’17, Julia Kuelzow ’16, Amanda H. Levine ’16, Marshal Nelson ’17, Guy Regev ’16, and Karina VanHouten ’17.

  • Watch the video.

    March 10, 2016

    About the Panel Discussion
    Twenty-first century health care is changing rapidly with new regulations and developments emerging every day. Practitioners in health law now face issues associated with digital medicine and cyber security as well as changes in compliance and state regulations.

    Our panel of practitioners in Health Law discussed their career path and how the changing world of health care delivery is transforming their practice. The panelists highlighted traditional and nontraditional areas of opportunity in Health Law and offered tips on getting your foot in the door.

  • February 20, 2015

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turned 25 on July 26, 2015. The enactment of this historic legislation set out an ambitious rights-based model of disability that promised “to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.” In no small way, the ADA, its amendments and other foundational disability rights legislation, also sought to change how disability is defined and experienced.

    This program explored ways in which our conception of disability is evolving and the role law has played in shaping the Disability Rights Movement of today. What impact does law have on the lived reality of persons with disabilities? How does law shape equal access and opportunities? Can law alter attitudes and behaviors toward people with disabilities? Does law function to promote the dignity and independence of people with disabilities and in what ways does it fail to do so? Ultimately, the program explored today’s disability law and policy; and identified the limits and possibilities of law as an equalizer of opportunities.

    Learn more.
    View video.

  • February 10, 2014

    The discussion focused on how community residents (that is, citizens of a place) who are experiencing health effects from industrial toxins can document exposures and hold industrial polluters accountable. Topics were drawn from the experience of organizations such as Mossville Environmental Action Now, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and other groups. The discussion addressed the meaning of public health protection; the effects on communities when it is withheld; the use of epidemiological research and other public health tools; and, how community residents can create alternative public health research strategies and use them in legal, media, and community-organizing campaigns—especially those focused on industries such as oil refining and chemical processing.

    The program’s goal was to share knowledge and tactics that benefit the work of environmental justice organizing in the United States.

    Learn more.
    View video.
  • November 20, 2013

    Brooklyn is experiencing a remarkable renaissance, but health care in our borough is in a perilous state. Four hospitals have shut down or face closure. Some argue it’s all for the best, and that even more closures are needed. But can New York City’s most populous borough handle it, and what types of health care institutions will emerge to meet our health care needs?

    Local policy leaders and hospital administrators discussed health care coverage in Brooklyn and presented their vision for the future.

    Read more.
  • September 28, 2012

    The Supreme Court has spoken. In its June 28, 2012 decision, the Court permitted the largest expansion of health insurance in recent history by upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). It carved out one important exception: Congress may not withdraw existing Medicaid funds from states that elect not to participate in Medicaid expansion. Yet the Court’s decision has done little to bridge the sharp ideological divide regarding U.S. health policy.

    This symposium brought together a distinguished group of legal, medical, political science, economic, and public health experts to chart the steps that policymakers need to undertake to achieve a workable program of reform.

    Learn more
    View video

  • April 13, 2012

    In recent years, child maltreatment has been strongly linked to identifiable risk factors, such as poverty and stress. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has defined child maltreatment as an important public health problem and has an ongoing program of epidemiological research underway. Thus far, the child protection system has failed to respond to this new, epidemiological understanding of maltreatment. It has not developed evidence-based treatments or standardized diagnostic procedures, and it has woefully neglected prevention, the key to most successful public health campaigns. This symposium brought together a distinguished interdisciplinary group of legal, medical, and social science experts on child protection to chart the steps that policy makers need to undertake.

    Read more about the event.
    Resources for this event.

  • March 18, 2011

    At an interdisciplinary symposium held on March 18, entitled “Adolescents in Society: Their Evolving Legal Status,” panelists addressed the many complex issues that lie ahead for lawyers, educators, and others working with adolescents in the field. At the heart of the discussions was the transformation of the rights and protections accorded adolescents over the past decade, whether through court decisions, legislation, or social change. Although modern teens have more freedom to make their own decisions, data shows their decision-making skills have not yet fully formed, nor are they as neurologically and socially developed as adults. This new evidence has led to debates about teens in the juvenile justice system, in the health care system, and as users of the Internet, cellphones, and other technologies. Are they to be considered and treated as children or as adults?

    Read more about the event.
    View photos of the event.

  • October 15, 2010

    More than two decades of research shows that poor and vulnerable children in America, including children in foster care, receive more psychotropic medications than other children their age. These medications may include complex drug combinations that are prescribed off-label and without adequate evidence of favorable benefit-risk rations. The purpose of this roundtable is to better understand the significance of these patterns and disparities in the use of psychotropic medications, particularly antipsychotic drugs, among American children. Ultimately, the goal of this program is to identify changes in policy and practice that are likely to improve psychopharmacologic prescription practices among poor and vulnerable youth. View video of the event.

  • March 5, 2010

    Over 300,000 immigrants a year are detained by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security. These immigrants are held at facilities both run by, or under contract with, USICE and are wholly dependent on the facilities for the provision of healthcare. In recent years, studies by community-based organizations, the government, and media have uncovered systemic deficiencies in healthcare that have led to suffering and even death for persons held in immigration detention.

    The Sparer Public Interest Law Forum, "Finding a Cure: Providing Adequate Health Care to Immigrants in Detention," was held at the Law School on March, 5, 2010. Experts from the government, medical doctors, and community-based immigrant advocacy organizations discussed the complex nature of the problem of providing healthcare to such a transient population including language barriers, costs, and government and institutional perceptions of the level of care appropriate for this population of detainees. View video of the event.

  • January 20, 2010

    On January 20, 2010, the Center and SUNY Downstate Medical Center sponsored a roundtable discussion at the Law School on Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (MOLST). The primary purpose of the meeting was to gather information about this legal document on clinical care and its impact on public understanding of others, such as the healthcare proxy. Participants included an interdisciplinary mix of health lawyers, physicians, policy analysts, palliative care professionals, students, and academics. 

    MOLST is a form that represents the legal equivalent of an inpatient do not resuscitate (DNR) form. The form is used to communicate physician orders regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation and life-sustaining treatment at the end of life. Dr. Patricia A. Bomba, Vice President and Medical Director of Geriatrics at Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, gave a presentation that described the launch of the MOLST initiative, emphasizing the value of this legal document to patients and families that face difficult decisions at the end of life. Useful information was gathered about perceptions of the value of the form and geographic differences in its acceptance and usage. 

    Not long after this meeting, Governor Paterson signed the Family Healthcare Decisions Act (FHCDA) into law. The law creates a legal mechanism for the appointment of a healthcare surrogate to make healthcare decisions for individuals who become incapacitated and have not prepared advance directives regarding their wishes. It empowers family members and others close to patients to make medical decisions for them in the event that they cannot do so themselves. In light of the new law, a follow-up meeting was held in early May to discuss proposed changes to the MOLST form and questions raised by the FHCDA.

  • October 8, 2009

    The economic stimulus package, signed into law last February, will pour an unprecedented $19 billion into health information technology. Many policymakers believe that broad use of this technology has the potential to improve health care quality, reduce costs, increase patient participation in decision-making, and prevent medical errors. However, it raises many concerns about the security and privacy of medical records.

    On October 8, 2009, Brooklyn Law School's Center for Health, Science and Public Policy sponsored a theory-practice seminar, “eHealth? New Challenges for Information Privacy and Security.” Professors Karen Porter and Derek Bambauer introduced a panel of experts to discuss a range of policy changes that could enhance privacy protections.

    Learn more
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  • April 7, 2009 

    Jennifer L. Mnookin, Vice Dean for Faculty and Research and Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law, delivered the Ira M. Belfer Lecture on April 7, 2009. Her talk, “The Future of Forensic Science,” discussed the systemic shortcomings of forensic evidence and the steps the legal and scientific communities must take to justify its admission in the courtroom. Traditional forensic science techniques – such as latent fingerprint evidence, handwriting identification evidence, and ballistics evidence – have increasingly been challenged as lacking a rigorous empirical foundation or an adequate scientific basis. Another concern is that expert testimony with respect to such evidence can be frequently both overstated and unproven. Courts have often resorted to dramatic doctrinal legerdemain in their rejection of these challenges, and academics and institutions such as the National Academy of Sciences have joined the debate. Recent scandals involving fingerprints, such as the FBI’s incorrect identification of a man wrongly linked to a train bombing in Madrid and the LAPD’s erroneous identification of suspects, show that these concerns are not merely theoretical or academic. 

    Learn more

  • October 2, 2008

    The Center for Health, Science and Public Policy sponsored a theory-practice seminar, “Preventing a Disaster: Guidelines for Dealing with Epidemics,” on October 2, 2008 to address the legal and policy issues that are likely to arise in an influenza pandemic — an issue that gained importance in the spring of 2009 with the emergence of the H1N1 influenza virus.

    The purpose of the program, said Professor Karen Porter, was to “provide a forum that covers an issue of significant importance to the public, where there hasn’t been enough public discourse.” Recent outbreaks of avian influenza have generated concern about, and prompted health officials to plan for, the possibility of a pandemic that could overwhelm the health care system and its resources. Professor Porter organized the event and moderated the program, while Professor Marsha Garrison, a bioethics expert at Brooklyn Law School, introduced the panel participants.

    In 2006, the New York State Department of Health released its draft preparedness plan for a possible influenza pandemic. Shortly thereafter, the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, at the request of the Department of Health, convened a workgroup to consider the clinical and ethical issues involved in the allocation of mechanical ventilators in the event of such a pandemic. The group brought together distinguished experts in the fields of bioethics, law, medicine, and policy, with representatives from medical facilities and government agencies to address necessary alterations in the standard of care in an emergency.

    View video

Center for Health, Science & Public Policy

Have questions? We have answers.

Center for Health, Science and Public Policy
Brooklyn Law School
250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, New York 

Phone: (718) 780-7559