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September 19, 2005    

Center for Law and the Public’s Health Receives Important Global Designation

The Center for Law and the Public’s Health at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities has been designated a World Health Organization (WHO) and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Collaborating Center on Public Health Law and Human Rights, making it the only academic center of its kind to receive this global status. Lawrence O. Gostin, professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Georgetown Law’s Associate Dean for Academic Research and Academic Programs, was designated to head the joint Center.

Georgetown Law Dean T. Alex Aleinikoff said of the landmark achievement, “This designation is a capstone for the Center, reflecting the critical importance of global health, transnational law, governance, and human rights at Georgetown University.”

Dr. Michael J. Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health added, “The Bloomberg School strongly supports this new standing for the Center, which speaks highly of its prior and future efforts in international public health law.”

Founded in 2000 with funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a joint institutional center at Georgetown University Law Center and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Center for Law and the Public’s Health is a scholarly resource at the international, national and regional levels on public health law, ethics, policy and human rights. Gostin is internationally known for his scholarly and applied work in public health and human rights, having authored several books and hundreds of articles of relevance. 

“This unique status with WHO and PAHO allows the Center and our two preeminent academic institutions to engage in scholarship, teaching and international assistance to protect the health of populations worldwide,” said Gostin. “Transnational law, ethics and human rights are key tools for scholars and advocates pursuing global health and justice.”

Among the Center’s projects are collaborative efforts with colleagues at WHO and PAHO to develop model international public health legislative provisions consistent with WHO’s Millennium Development Goals; create a structural template for WHO Member States to compare existing national laws to WHO’s Revised International Health Regulations; and produce significant scholarly and applied work on mental health and human rights. Additional efforts will focus on mobilizing needed expertise and providing scholarly research, technical assistance, training, and education worldwide.

Stephen P. Teret, a professor and Center director at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, notes that “The most pressing issues for public health law now transcend national boundaries but the legal bases for addressing public health problems, unlike the biological bases, change country by country. Our challenge, aided by this WHO/PAHO designation, is to find innovative ways to use multi-national and international law as effective tools for protecting the public.”

The Center, Georgetown University Law Center and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have devoted considerable energies and resources to international public health law and human rights issues. Dean Aleinikoff recently dedicated the new Eric E. Hotung International Law Center at Georgetown in spring 2005. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is globally recognized as an academic leader in international public health. Both institutions have multiple international components and together train future leaders through a joint JD/MPH academic program and other efforts.

“Our institutions’ and the Center’s considerable accomplishments in international health and human rights underlie the WHO/PAHO collaborating center status,” says James G. Hodge, Jr., Center executive director and associate professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Gostin and Hodge have worked closely with WHO on other projects, including the development of a toolkit for tobacco control legislative interventions as part of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative. Other Center scholars, including Professor Scott Burris, Temple University Law School, and Professor David Fidler, Indiana University School of Law, also have extensive prior and current projects on international health laws and policies.

The Center is planning an event at Georgetown University Law Center in early 2006 to formally launch the WHO/PAHO Collaborating Center. It will bring together preeminent officials from WHO, PAHO, World Bank and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as deans, faculty and students from the Center’s joint institutions, to commemorate the designation and discuss emerging issues in international health and human rights.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna Lowe or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.
Additional media contact: Elissa Free, Georgetown University Law Center at 202-662-9500 or ebf4@law.georgetown.edu.