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Durham University

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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 is a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow from October 2020 and bought out of teaching for 2 years.

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.


Shaun's principal publications are Influencing Traits Before Birth (2002; reissued 2017), Revisiting Landmark Cases in Medical Law (2018) and Medical Law and Ethics (6th edn, 2020). 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 writing a book supported by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship: Law at the Frontiers of Biomedicine.

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

I am available to supervise PhDs in any area of medical law and ethics to start in October 2022. Please read the information here for advice on Durham’s entry requirements and the content of a good PhD proposal. I am happy to provide advice on your draft proposal, but please ensure that it connects in some way to my expertise. I am not an empirical researcher.

Research students - current

Primary supervisions marked with (p)

Research students - successfully completed

Research Groups

Durham Law School

Research Projects

Durham Law School

Research Interests

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

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • English Law: Medical law
  • Ethics: Medical ethics


Selected Grants

  • 2020: Law at the Frontiers of Biomedicine (£90444.44 from Leverhulme Trust)
  • 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)