New Joint Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience

The MGH Center for Law, Brain and Behavior and Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center announce joint “Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience” for 2014-2016

The MGH Center for Law, Brain and Behavior and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School will collaborate on a joint venture – the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience – beginning in Fall 2014. The collaboration will include a Senior Fellow in residence, public symposia, and an HLS Law and Neuroscience Seminar.

The Center for Law, Brain and Behavior (“CLBB”) provides ethical and scientifically sound translation of neuroscience into the legal arena, advancing new discoveries about the brain and behavior while defining best practices for using them in the application of justice. Founded in 2009 out of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, CLBB achieves its mission through neuroscience education for judges and lawyers, public seminars and interdisciplinary workshops, and faculty initiatives designed to spur out-of-the-box solutions to complex social issues. Active program areas include questions of intent and responsibility, lie detection, decision-making capacity, neuroimaging as courtroom evidence, and juvenile justice.

Established in 2005, the Petrie-Flom Center seeks to promote interdisciplinary scholarship and analysis at the intersection of law, health policy, medicine, and bio-science and technology.  To achieve this goal, the Center hosts post-doctoral fellows, graduate student fellows, and interns; organizes public events, workshops, and conferences; participates in various sponsored research projects; hosts a collaborative health policy blog, Bill of Health; and publishes the peer-reviewed Journal of Law and Biosciences with partners at Duke and Stanford.

Amanda Pustilnik, JD, currently a Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, will be the first resident Senior Fellow in Law and Neuroscience in 2014-2015. Professor Pustilnik will pursue original research, mentoring, and public engagement related to issues of pain and the law. The Project will also include expert symposia and public events to promote focused discussion on questions at the intersection of pain, addictions, and the law. Finally, the Hon. Nancy Gertner, who is an HLS Professor of Practice as well as a CLBB faculty member and Petrie-Flom affiliated faculty, will teach a Law and Neuroscience Seminar to introduce students to this complex and growing translational field. The course will draw on HLS and CLBB’s interdisciplinary legal and scientific faculty. Said Gertner, “I am delighted to be part of this venture which brings together the extraordinary resources of MGH’s Center for Law, Brain and Behavior and Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center. The subject – the intersection of law and neuroscience – deserves no less.”

The Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience will be led by I. Glenn Cohen, Professor of Law at HLS and faculty co-director of the Petrie-Flom Center, Hon. Nancy Gertner, Judith G. Edersheim, co-director of CLBB, Senior Consultant to the MGH Law and Psychiatry Service, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and Bruce H. Price, co-director of CLBB, Chief of Neurology at McLean Hospital, Associate in Neurology at MGH, Associate Professor of Neurology at HMS.

“This project offers a unique synergy of legal scholarship with clinical neuroscience expertise and we believe in its power to enhance justice at the cusp of law and the brain,” Edersheim noted. “The collaboration promises to let us make important gains for the law in understanding pain, intention, responsibility and other topics,” said Cohen. Price added, “We look forward to addressing problems in imaginative, forward thinking, and interdisciplinary ways.”

Judi Flom, CLBB Advisory Board member and widow of Joseph H. Flom, Founding Benefactor of the Petrie-Flom Center, commented, “I am delighted that the Petrie-Flom Center and the CLBB will be collaborating on some projects of mutual and public importance and I know Joe would be happy too. Joe was very proud of the part he played in the formation and development of both entities and I believe he felt any future collaboration would be natural. It is wonderful to see this come to fruition.”

For more information, visit CLBB’s website and the Petrie-Flom Center’s website.

The Petrie-Flom Center Staff

The Petrie-Flom Center staff often posts updates, announcements, and guests posts on behalf of others.

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