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Professor Shaun Pattinson

Professor of Medical Law and Ethics

Professor of Medical Law and Ethics in the Durham Law School+44 (0) 191 33 46863
Co-Director in the Durham CELLS (Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences)
Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing 
Fellow of the Institute for Medical Humanities


Shaun Pattinson joined the Law School in 2006 and was promoted to Professor of Medical Law and Ethics in 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, PhD and higher doctorate (LLD) from the University of Sheffield, and a higher doctorate (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, and was a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow in 2020–22.

At Durham, Shaun has held various administrative roles, including Deputy Dean of School, Director of Postgraduate Research (twice), Director of Durham CELLS (several times), Director of Recruitment, Recruitment lead for biolaw/medical law, REF Mentor, Chair of the LLM Board of Examiners.


Shaun's books include Influencing Traits Before Birth (2002); Revisiting Landmark Cases in Medical Law (2018); Medical Law and Ethics (6th edn, 2020) and Law at the Frontiers of Biomedicine (2023). The first edition of Medical Law and Ethics was supported by an AHRC Research Leave award and the second edition was awarded the 2010 Minty Medico-Legal Society Prize for best medico-legal book. The writing of Law at the Frontiers of Biomedicine was supported by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship. For reviews of these books see: Johnson 2003; Skene 2004; Harris-Short 2005; Smith 2006; Ryan 2007; McAlister 2015; Brownsword 2023; Freckelton 2023.

Shaun has been awarded research grants by the AHRC, British Academy, Leverhulme Trust, SLS and Wellcome Trust. He has given papers at many UK universities and in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and the US. He edited Medical Law International from July 2005 to July 2011, and is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry and The Biologist. He has advised the Canadian Donation and Transplantation Research Program (CNTRP).

Shaun was Deputy Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which is the closest that the UK has to a national bioethics committee. He was a member for 6 years (until April 2021) and, for the final two years of his term, 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  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.

Shaun is currently a member of the Council of Governors of South Tees NHS Foundation Trust.

Research students

I supervise PhDs on topics within medical law and ethics. Please note that PhDs in Durham usually start in October. See 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 interests

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


Authored book

Book review

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article


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Supervision students