Georgetown Law offers an unparalleled health law curriculum, with more than 40 courses addressing domestic and global health law. See a comprehensive list of Georgetown’s health law courses here and some example courses below.
Global Health Law
Global Health Law is the O’Neill Institute’s flagship course and is open to both Georgetown J.D. and LL.M. students. It is a compulsory unit in the National and Global Health Law LL.M.
A newly established field, global health law encompasses international law and policy that directly or indirectly affects global health, including treaties, regulations, global strategies and other non-binding standards, and national and international jurisprudence. The field of study includes both legal instruments designed to protect public health as well as the interaction between legal instruments from other international legal regimes and public health considerations and concerns. This course provides a strong foundation in these laws and policies, including governance of the World Health Organization, the International Health Regulations, and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
In examining the application and effectiveness of global health law, this course provides a foundation for global health issues, including infectious diseases (such as Ebola, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and influenza) and noncommunicable diseases (such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease and their causes, including obesity, tobacco, and alcohol). In this course, students will hear from leading voices in global health and the law and benefit from the expertise of Georgetown Law’s O’Neill Institute.
Health and Human Rights (Project-Based Practicum)
This course explores the potential of using the law, and specifically, the human rights legal framework, to improve health. Students will be exposed to real life projects at the domestic level in a number of different jurisdictions, especially but not exclusively from Latin-America and Africa; as well as at the regional and international level, including the Inter-American Human Rights System and the United Nations Human Rights System. With this approach, students will strengthen not only their knowledge of the human rights framework within their familiar jurisdictions, but will also have the opportunity to develop comparative legal research skills.
The human rights framework that students will learn in depth in this practicum is not limited to the right to health but involves other related human rights that are also social determinants of health or that are instrumental to the effective realization of the right to health. Therefore, students will be exposed to the substantive expertise needed to successfully practice the strategic use of the integrality of the human rights framework in the specific context of health. Students will also be required to consider the use of other legal frameworks that have the potential of having a positive impact on health outcomes.
The variety of projects will take into consideration the complexity and different dimensions of the right to health as well as the nature of the legal obligations that it imposes in different contexts. We will offer projects that respond to current and pressing global challenges with respect to health, for example, projects exploring the right to health and other rights in the context of public health emergencies, the link between health and the environment, the structural disadvantage that specific groups face with respect to their health and the role of private actors, to name a few.
For the execution of their projects, students will work with external partners of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, in particular, the Health and Human Rights Initiative (“HHRI”).
Pan-Epidemics and PHEICs: COVID-19, Ebola, and What’s Next?
This course will focus on the legal, public health, and medical challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Ebola epidemics in the Democratic Republic of Congo within the “One Health” paradigm — an integrated three-part framework that takes into account the health of humans, animals, and the environment.
The course will address the legal response to epidemic disease, focusing particularly on the World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations (IHR), the WHO Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) emergency committee advice, and decisions by the WHO Director-General from 2009 to 2020. The course focuses on COVID-19, Ebola, Zika, MERS, yellow fever, polio, pandemic influenza, and more. Professor Hougendobler has direct experience with WHO, having worked at their headquarters in Geneva for four years.
Professor Lucey will provide his personal perspective based on on-the-ground work in responding to Ebola, COVID-19, Zika, MERS, SARS, plague, and more. His work overseas led to his proposal in 2014 to create an exhibition on global epidemics at the Smithsonian Museum of National History. It opened in 2018 and has been extended to 2022 to add COVID-19. The class will include a virtual tour.
National and Global Health Law: O’Neill Colloquium
In this interdisciplinary colloquium, leading national and international scholars in a range of domains will explore fundamental normative and policy problems of contemporary concern in health law. Topics will include health care, public health, global health, science, regulation, politics, ethics, and policy. The colloquium will have participants from across the Georgetown University campus among faculty, senior administration, and students, as well as participants in the Washington, D.C. health policy and legislative community.
Each seminar session will focus on a presentation by, or structured dialogue with, distinguished guest speakers. Students from the Law Center and other schools within Georgetown University (including Nursing and Health Studies, Medicine, Arts and Sciences, Foreign Service, Business, and other graduate programs) will be expected to prepare for intensive discussions in which experts, faculty, and students explore, analyze, and deepen their understanding of issues selected for consideration each month. The colloquia will be open to other students and faculty members across Georgetown University as well as interested members of the public, particularly professionals working in health law and policy in Washington, D.C.
O’Neill Institute Practicum: Regulating Alcohol, Tobacco & Food in International and Comparative Law
This course will give students the opportunity to work with the O’Neill Institute and its external partners in government and civil society to gain experience in using law to prevent noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Law is a key tool to reduce the prevalence of key NCD risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets.
In this seminar, students will explore the challenges and opportunities of using law to address risk factors that contribute to the rising prevalence of NCDs. The course will take a global approach grounded in international law, including international human rights law, the right to health, and World Health Organization (WHO) law and policy instruments, such as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs 2013-2020. Further, case studies will explore a variety of best practice examples from jurisdictions spanning the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Latin American countries, including taxes to discourage consumption of unhealthy products, laws restricting advertising and promotion, and laws and policies to promote physically active lifestyles.
Students will be equipped with an understanding of specific issues, such as the role of law compared with policy, the strengths and weaknesses of different regulatory strategies, and the role and responsibilities of the relevant industries in promoting the right to health. After exploring a series of foundational themes and issues through the first half of the semester, the remainder of the class will focus on in-depth case studies and experiences in regulating the risk factors (e.g., industry litigation challenging NCD-related laws, challenges in monitoring and evaluating the health impacts of NCD-related laws, and civil society’s role in NCD law-making). Students will also learn how to use epidemiological data to craft compelling arguments in support of the adoption of NCD-related laws and policies and to defend these laws when challenged by industry. Class time will be devoted to developing practical advocacy and drafting skills to support students in their project work.
Health Care Fraud and Abuse
One-fifth of the U.S. economy centers around health care industry sectors. This seminar examines criminal, civil, and administrative tools used by federal and state enforcement authorities to police the U.S. health care system. We will focus on cases brought under federal and state False Claims Acts (FCA), the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS), Stark Law, Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The seminar provides a survey of the enforcement activities of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of Inspector General at Department of Health and Human Services (OIG), and state Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MFCUs) in matters against pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing companies, physicians, hospitals, clinical practices, nursing homes, laboratories, and others. The seminar materials thoroughly cover the statutes, safe-harbors, and regulations that govern the health care industry. We will also discuss risk mitigation strategies and compliance program best practices across industry sectors to provide insight into the impact enforcement has on (1) clinical decision-making, (2) costs to providers, payers, and patients, (3) patient safety, and (4) quality of care. To maintain a broad perspective with the diverse and frequently changing legal landscape in the area, in addition to the case book, materials discussed and presented in this course draw from news reports, trade publications, and U.S. government agency materials.