The Evolution of Public Health Law Research

By: Scott Burris, JD

Law has been used to protect and promote public health from the early days of European colonization of North America. Quarantine statutes and orders are reported from the mid-17th century. The 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, where our office is based, inspired the federal government’s first public health statute, authorizing relocation of the capital in the event of an outbreak.

By the mid-19th century, sanitarians like Boston’s own Lemuel Shattuck were articulating the idea that a considerable proportion of death and illness was preventable, and arguing that it was moral, feasible, and economical for the state to do the preventing. Law was a primary tool for prevention, and throughout the 19th century, and into the early twentieth, the extent and limitations of federal, state and local public health authority was litigated, debated in legislatures and defined in voluminous treatises by scholars like Freund, Tiedeman and Tobey.

And then, it got quiet.

Read More

Introducing Our Collaborators

Bill of Health is lucky to have lined up a few really great institutional collaborators.  Let’s meet them:

First, HealthLawProf Blog will be cross-posting its material on our site, helping Bill of Health achieve its goal of becoming a true one-stop-shop for news and commentary in health law, biotech, and bioethics.

Second, the folks at the Public Health Law Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (headed up by Temple’s Scott Burris) will be providing regular updates on their great work in empirical public health law.  You can also follow them on:

And last but not least, Yale’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, which puts together a stellar weekly round-up of recently published bioethics scholarship, op-eds, news items, etc. will be allowing us to post a version of that round-up here.  Check for it on Friday afternoons.

If you’re interested in pursuing an institutional collaboration, please let us know.  Contact Holly Fernandez Lynch, hlynch at law dot harvard dot edu.