Faculty Scholars Program

I. Glenn Cohen, JD

Class of 2015
  • James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law
  • Deputy Dean
  • Faculty Director, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology & Bioethics
Harvard Law School
Scholar Project

A leading voice on the intersection of bioethics and law,  Prof. Cohen is the author of more than 100 articles and chapters, and his award-winning work has appeared in leading legal (including the Harvard and Stanford Law Reviews), medical (including the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA), bioethics (including the American Journal of Bioethics, the Hastings Center Report), scientific (Science, Cell, Nature Reviews Genetics) and public health (the American Journal of Public Health) journals, as well as op-eds in the New York Times and Washington Post. He is the author, co-author, editor, or co-editor of 13 books. His work has appeared in or been covered on PBS, NPR, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Mother Jones, the New York Times, the New Republic, the Boston Globe, and several other media venues.

His current projects relate to big data, AI, health information technologies, mobile health, reproduction/reproductive technology, research ethics, organ transplantation, rationing in law and medicine, NFL players, and medical tourism. He was selected as a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute and the Hastings Center.

Prof. Cohen is one of three editors-in-chief of the Journal of Law and the Biosciences. He has served on the Steering Committee for Ethics for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Ethics Committee for the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN).

Patients with Passports: Medical Tourism, Law, and Ethics

Grant Cycle: 2011 - 2012

Medical tourism includes travel to obtain interventions that are prohibitively difficult to obtain in the patient’s home country, such as kidney transplantation for some patients. Medical tourism may also include travel to obtain interventions that are illegal in the patient’s home country, such as certain types of stem cell transplantation or assisted reproduction. Increasingly, patients also travel to obtain interventions that are both legal and available in their home country but cost much less abroad, such as coronary bypass surgery. Professor Cohen will analyze numerous ethical dilemmas and legal problems in medical tourism. For example, how should kidney specialists in the U.S. respond when patients inquire about purchasing a kidney transplant abroad? Are nephrologists who advise patients on higher-quality centers abroad acting in the patient’s best interests or encouraging illegal or unethical behavior? Should these physicians provide care for a patient who purchased an organ transplant despite their advice? On a policy level, may employers or insurers offer incentives or set requirements for patients to obtain expensive services abroad in order to reduce costs? If patients are injured as a result of substandard care in other countries, what legal recourse do they now have and what should they have? In addition, Professor Cohen will also analyze how medical tourism may impact professional ethics and health care delivery in the U.S.


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