Lawrence O. Gostin is University Professor, Georgetown University’s highest academic rank conferred by the University President. Prof. Gostin directs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and is the Founding O’Neill Chair in Global Health Law. He served as Associate Dean for Research at Georgetown Law from 2004 to 2008. He is Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University and Professor of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University.

Prof. Gostin is the Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law. The WHO Director-General has appointed Prof. Gostin to high-level positions, including the International Health Regulations (IHR) Roster of Experts and the Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health. He served on the Director-General’s Advisory Committee on Reforming the World Health Organization, as well as numerous WHO expert advisory committees, including on the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, smallpox, genomic sequencing data, migrant health, and NCD prevention. He served on the WHO/Global Fund Blue Ribbon Expert Panel: The Equitable Access Initiative to develop a global health equity framework. He co-chaired the Lancet Commission on Global Health Law.

Professor Gostin has been at the center of public policy and law through multiple epidemics from AIDS and SARS, to Ebola, MERS, and Zika. He currently works closely with the Biden administration and global institutions like WHO, the World Bank, and Gavi on the COVID-19 response. He served on two global commissions to report on the lessons learned from the 2015 West Africa Ebola epidemic. He was also senior advisor to the United Nations Secretary General’s post-Ebola Commission. Prof. Gostin also served on the drafting team for the G-7 Summit in Tokyo 2016, focusing on global health security and Universal Health Coverage.

Prof. Gostin holds multiple international academic professorial appointments, including at Oxford University, the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa), and Melbourne University. Prof. Gostin served on the Governing Board of Directors of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health.

Prof. Gostin holds editorial appointments in leading academic journals throughout the world. He is the Legal and Global Health Correspondent for the Journal of the American Medical Association. He was also Founding Editor-in-Chief of Laws (an international open access law journal). He was formally the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.

Prof. Gostin holds several honorary degrees. In 1994, the Chancellor of the State University of New York conferred an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. In 2006, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Vice Chancellor awarded Cardiff University’s (Wales) highest honor, an Honorary Fellow. In 2007, the Royal Institute of Public Health (United Kingdom) appointed Prof. Gostin as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health (FRSPH). In 2012, the Chancellor of the University of Sydney – on the nomination of the Deans of the Law and Medical Schools – conferred a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa), presided by two Justices of Australia’s highest court—Justices Kirby and Haydon. In 2021, The Faculty of Public Health (United Kingdom) elected Prof. Gostin as an Honorary Member.

Prof. Gostin is an elected lifetime Member of the National Academy of Medicine/National Academy of Sciences. He has served on the National Academy’s Board on Health Sciences Policy, the Board on Population Health, the Human Subjects Review Board, and the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law. He currently serves on the National Academies of Sciences Engineering, and Medicine, Board on Global Health. Gostin chaired the National Academy’s Committee on Global Solutions to Falsified, Substandard, and Counterfeit Medicines. He has chaired National Academy Committees on national preparedness for mass disasters, health informational privacy, public health genomics, and human subject research on prisoners.

Prof. Gostin is also a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Fellow of the Hastings Center. In 2016, President Obama appointed Prof. Gostin to a six-year term on the President’s National Cancer Advisory Board to advise the nation on cancer prevention, research, and policy. He also serves on the National Institutes of Health Director’s Advisory Committee on the ethics of public/private partnerships to end the opioid crisis.

Prof. Gostin has led major law reform initiatives in the U.S., including drafting the Model Emergency Health Powers Act (MEHPA) to combat bioterrorism (following the post-9/11 anthrax attacks) and the “Turning Point” Model State Public Health Act. He also spearheaded the World Health Organization and International Development Law Organization’s major report, Advancing the Right to Health: The Vital Role of Law.

Prof. Gostin’s proposal for a Framework Convention on Global Health – an international treaty ensuring the right to health – is now part of a global campaign, endorsed by the UN Secretary-General and Director of UNAIDS.

In the United Kingdom, Lawrence Gostin was the Legal Director of the National Association for Mental Health, Director of the National Council of Civil Liberties (the UK equivalent of the ACLU, now called “Liberty”), and a Fellow at Oxford University. He led Liberty during its 50th anniversary, started by George Orwell and EM Forster. He helped draft the Mental Health Act (England and Wales) and brought landmark cases before the European Court of Human Rights.

Prof. Gostin’s books include: Global Health Security: A Blueprint for the Future (Harvard University Press, 2021); Global Health Law (Harvard University Press, 2014); Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint (University of California Press, 3rd ed., 2016); Public Health Law and Ethics: A Reader (University of California Press, 3rd ed., 2018); Foundations of Global Health Law and Human Rights (Oxford University Press, 2020); Human Rights in Global Health: Rights-Based Governance for a Globalizing World (Oxford University Press, 2018); Law and the Health System (Foundation Press, 2014); Principles of Mental Health Law & Practice (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Gostin’s classic text, Global Health Law (Harvard University Press, 2014) is read throughout the world—translated and published in both simplified and traditional Chinese, in Korean, and in Spanish. Paul Farmer, Partners in Health, says of his book: Global Health Law is “more than the definitive book on a dynamic field. Gostin harnesses the power of international law and human rights as tools to close unconscionable health inequities — the injustices that burden marginalized populations throughout the world. Gostin presents a forceful vision, one that deserves a wide embrace.”

In a 2012 systematic empirical analysis of legal scholarship, independent researchers ranked Prof. Gostin 1st in the nation in productivity among all law professors, and 11th in in impact and influence. A 2017, 2018, and 2018 systematic empirical analysis all ranked Prof. Gostin 1st in the nation for citations and impact in health law.

Honors and Awards

The National Academy of Medicine awarded Prof. Gostin the Adam Yarmolinsky Medal for distinguished service to further its mission of science and health. He received the Public Health Law Association’s Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of a career devoted to using law to improve the public’s health” presented at the CDC. The New York Public Health Law Association conferred the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for extraordinary service to improve the public’s health. In 2015, the American Public Health Association awarded Prof. Gostin the Lifetime Achievement Award for his career in public health law. In 2018, Gostin was awarded the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, Who’s Who highest honor.

Internationally, Prof. Gostin received the Key to Tohoko University (Japan) for distinguished service for human rights in mental health. In the United Kingdom, the National Consumer Council bestowed Prof Gostin with the Rosemary Delbridge Memorial Award for the person “who has most influenced Parliament and government to act for the welfare of society.”


Featured Scholarship

Public Health Law and Ethics: A Reader (Lawrence O. Gostin & Lindsay F. Wiley eds., Oakland, Cal.: University of California Press 3d ed. 2018).
Human Rights in Global Health: Rights-Based Governance for a Globalizing World (Benjamin Mason Meier & Lawrence O. Gostin eds., New York: Oxford University Press 2018).
Lawrence O. Gostin, Global Health Law (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press 2014).
Lawrence O. Gostin & Lindsay F. Wiley, Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint (Oakland, Cal.: University of California Press 3d ed. 2016).
Lawrence O. Gostin, The AIDS Pandemic: Complacency, Injustice, and Unfulfilled Expectations (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press 2004).
Lawrence O. Gostin et al., The Legal Determinants of Health: Harnessing the Power of Law for Global Health and Sustainable Development, 393 Lancet 1857-1910 (2019).
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Lawrence O. Gostin, Benjamin M. Meier, Rebekah Thomas, Veronica Magar & Tedros A. Ghebreyesus, 70 Years of Human Rights in Global Health: Drawing on a Contentious Past to Secure a Hopeful Future, 392 Lancet 2731-2735 (2018).
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Lawrence O. Gostin & Katharina E. Ó Cathaoir, Lurching from Complacency to Panic in the Fight Against Dangerous Microbes: A Blueprint for a Common Secure Future, 67 Emory L.J. 337-396 (2018).
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Lawrence O. Gostin, Living, Aging, and Dying in Healthy and Just Societies: Life Lessons from My Father, 97 Milbank Q. 24-30 (2019).
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