Faculty Scholars Program

Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBE

Class of 2022
  • John Russell Dickson, MD Presidential Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Scholar Project

Holly Fernandez Lynch is John Russell Dickson, MD Presidential Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Her scholarly work focuses on the ethics and regulation of human subjects research. As founder and co-chair of the Consortium to Advance Effective Research Ethics Oversight (www.aereo.org), Professor Fernandez Lynch is leading a collaborative effort to understand, evaluate, and improve IRB quality and effectiveness. Her Greenwall project examines gatekeeping in health care, with a focus on pre-approval access to investigational therapies outside clinical trials. Her earlier work on gatekeeping led to a book on conscientious objection, Conflicts of Conscience in Health Care: An Institutional Compromise (MIT Press 2008). In 2019, she was named the inaugural recipient of the 2019-2020 Baruch A. Brody Award and Lecture in Bioethics.

Professor Fernandez Lynch joined the boards of Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research (PRIM&R) and the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics (ASLME) in 2020. She was a member of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections (SACHRP) from 2014-2019 and remains a member of a SACHRP subcommittee.

Professor Fernandez Lynch was previously Executive Director of the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School, a private practice attorney focused on pharmaceuticals regulation, and a bioethicist at NIH’s Division of AIDS and President Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. She attended college at Penn, was a Levy Scholar in Law and Bioethics at Penn Law, and earned a Master of Bioethics also from Penn.

Bioethics & Drug Regulation

What Makes Health Care Gatekeeping Ethical?

Grant Cycle: 2018 - 2019

Patients may exercise their autonomy only to the extent authorized by health care “gatekeepers,” including the government, insurers, clinicians, and industry. Motivated by calls to acknowledge patient expertise, as well as broader attacks on traditional expertise and authority, Professor Lynch’s project aims to generate an ethical framework to interrogate the scope, value, and legitimacy of health care gatekeeping and to develop sound policy approaches, with an emphasis on gatekeeping at the end of life.


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