Member Spotlight: George Annas
This year's conference will once again be co-hosted by Boston University, where Annas is the William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, the Director of the Center for Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights of Boston University School of Public Health, and Professor in the Boston University School of Medicine, and School of Law.
The first Health Law Professors was held in 1978 at BU at a time when health law was still an emerging field.
"In the mid-70s, teaching health law in law schools was a pretty lonely affair," remembers Professor Annas. "Most law schools had no courses, and very few had more than one. It is probably not an overstatement that the health law teachers meetings were vital to the development of the field."
Annas adds, "The initial meetings gave the lonely pioneers an opportunity to network, support each other. They not only shared experiences and teaching approaches, but also developed strategies for dealing with skepticism from other faculty members who doubted that health law was a 'real' field."
Today, the conference has record break attendance from professors who teach at a variety of institutions around the country and the world.
"Over the years, as health law has become mainstream legal specialty (and not just in US News and World Report), keeping up with the rapidly expanding field, and getting to know other teachers, from the oldest to the youngest, and interacting with them in an relaxing and often fun context, have become the major reasons for the continued popularity of the meeting. New collaborations and new approaches to health law problems have come from almost every meeting; and that’s why it’s remained important to the field,” states Annas.
Annas is responsible for the creation of another Society staple, as he is the founding editor of Medicolegal News, which has evolved into the present day Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.
Of course Annas' monumental influence extends well beyond ASLME and its activities. He is also the co-founder of Global Lawyers and Physicians, a non-profit organization that focuses on health and human rights issues. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the National Academy of Medicine. Additionally, Professor Annas has served as the 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.
Professor Annas authored or edited over 20 books on health law and bioethics, including Genomic Messages, Worst Case Bioethics: Death, Disaster, and Public Health, Public Health Law, American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries, The Rights of Patients, Some Choice: Law, Medicine, and the Market, Standard of Care: The Law of American Bioethics, and Judging Medicine. He also wrote the play Shelley's Brain that has been presented to bioethics audiences across the U.S. and in Australia.
Since 1991, Annas has written a regular feature for the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Health Law, Ethics & Human Rights.” He has previously written regular features for the Hastings Center Report and the American Journal of Public Health.
He has degrees from Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and Harvard School of Public Health.