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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Professor Shaun Pattinson, LLB, MA, PhD, DLitt

Professor of Medical Law and Ethics in Durham Law School
Ref Mentor, Durham Law School
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 46863
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 46865
Room number: PCL222
Member of the Human Rights Centre

(email at


Shaun Pattinson joined the Law School in 2006 and has been Professor of Medical Law and Ethics since 2013. He founded Durham CELLS (Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences) in 2011.

Shaun has a law degree from the University of Hull, a Master's degree (in Biotechnological Law and Ethics) and PhD from the University of Sheffield, and a higher doctorate (Doctor of Letters: DLitt) from Durham University. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB). He has been a visiting scholar at the universities of Helsinki and Maastricht. See further Shaun’s LinkedIn profile.


Shaun's principal publications are Influencing Traits Before Birth (2002; reissued 2017), Medical Law and Ethics (5th edn, 2017) and Revisiting Landmark Cases in Medical Law (2018). The second edition of Medical Law and Ethics was awarded the 2010 Minty Medico-Legal Society Prize for best medico-legal book. Shaun is currently working on the sixth edition of his textbook for publication in 2020.

Shaun is currently a member of the International Advisory Committee for the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CNTRP) and was principal investigator on a Wellcome Trust engagement project. He has given papers at many UK universities and in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the US. He edited Medical Law International from July 2005 to July 2011. He is a member of the international editorial board of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry and a member of the editorial boards of Medical Law International and The Biologist.

Since March 2015, Shaun has been a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which is the closest that the UK has to a national bioethics committee. He is currently Deputy Chair of the Council and Chair of the Council's Horizon Scanning Advisory Group. He was one of the seven-member Working Group on Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), which launched its report on NIPT in the Speaker's House in the Palace of Westminster in March 2017, and contributed to the workshop/publication on research on human embryos: Human Embryo Culture (August 2017), 81–83.

Research students

Professor Pattinson is happy to advise those interested in studying for a PhD in any area of medical law and ethics to start in October 2020 or 2021. Please read the information here and contact to arrange for advice on your draft proposal.

Research students - current

Primary supervisions marked with (p)

Research students - successfully completed

Research Interests

  • Medical Law
  • Moral Theory (especially applied ethics)
  • Human Rights

Selected Grants

  • 2015: Incentivising Innovation and Higher Standards in Regulation and Liability Relating to Medicines (Society of Legal Scholars, £9,417) PI: Goldberg CI: Pattinson
  • 2014: 2014-2017 Human Cloning and Stem Cell Research Through the Medium of Law (Wellcome Trust, £29,961). PI: Pattinson CIs: Douglas & Kind.
  • 2004: Medical Law and Ethics: moral and legal aspects of medical practice (£14,013, AHRC)

Research Groups

  • Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences
  • Human Rights Centre

Research Projects

  • Grants

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

Show all publications

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