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Durham Law School

Staff profile

Dr Aisling McMahon, PhD(Edinburgh), LLM (Law, Technology & Governance), BCL

Assistant Professor in Biolaw in the Durham Law School

(email at


Aisling joined Durham law school as an Assistant Professor in Biolaw in September 2017. 

Her research explores the institutional influences which shape the making, interpretation, and application of legal rules. In this context, she is particularly interested in areas at the interface between law and science and between ordinary legal rules and rulemaking by technical bodies. Aisling obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh which was funded by a Principal's Career Development Award. This research examined the institutional framework for the application of the morality provisions in the European patent system for biotechnological inventions.

Her work continues to explore the relationship between intellectual property and bioethical concerns. She is currently working on a project, funded by a British Academy grant, which examines the divergent legal approaches to gene patentability that have emerged in the EU, US, and Canada. This research adopts a comparative institutional approach to highlight the influences shaping these approaches, the practical consequences of their adoption, and the factors underlying their disjunction with social expectations on access to treatment. 

Aisling has been a visiting researcher at the University of Oxford (Caroline Miles Visiting Scholar), the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, and the Hastings Center. She was Managing Editor (2012-2013) and Editor-in-Chief (2013-2015) of SCRIPTed Journal of Law, Technology and Society, and is currently the Book Reviews Editor for Medical Law International  (2017-present).

Prior to joining Durham, Aisling was a lecturer in Newcastle law school (2014-2017). Previously, she worked as a tutor in advanced legal methods and medical jurisprudence at the University of Edinburgh (2011-2013), and was also an AHRC research fellow on the 'Banking (On) the Brain' project at the University of Edinburgh. This inter-disciplinary project explored whether and how conceptions of the brain emanating from key Arts and Humanities disciplines and scientific research was reflected in the legal framework for brain-banking in the UK. From 2010-2011, Aisling worked as a judicial researcher (clerk) for members of the Irish Superior courts based in the Four Courts and Courts of Criminal Justice, Dublin.

Selected Grants

  • 2017: Caroline Miles Visiting Scholarship, Ethox Centre, University of Oxford
  • 2017: Gene Patentability: A comparative institutional analysis of the US, Canadian and European Approaches (British Academy, £8,863)
  • 2016: Aisling McMahon & Ilke Turkmendag, Regulatory Boundaries and Challenges in Human Genome Editing (Faculty Research Fund Newcastle University £1095)
  • 2011: Principal's Career Development Award (University of Edinburgh)

Selected Publications

Book review

Chapter in book

Journal Article


  • (Accepted), Gene Patentability and Access to Health: Bridging an Institutional Divide, Seminar, Caroline Miles Visiting Scholar. Ethox Centre, University of Oxford.
  • McMahon, Aisling & NíGhráinne, Bríd (Accepted), Ireland, Abortion and the European Convention on Human Rights’, Law School Research Seminar. University of Sheffield.

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