Virtual Lecture and Panel Discussion

Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School

Harvard Law School Petrie-Flom Center presents today a Book Talk: The Genome Defense: Inside the Epic Legal Battle to Determine Who Owns Your DNA. 


Online Viewing

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this panel discussion will be held virtually, as an online webinar. To ensure that you will receive access to the livestream and be kept up to date on any changes to the event, register now.  Last registration is 11:30am.

Event Description

When Chris Hansen, an ACLU lawyer, learned that the U.S. government was issuing patents for human genes to biotech companies, his first thought was: How can a corporation own what makes us who we are? Then he discovered that women were being charged exorbitant fees to test for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer—all because Myriad Genetics had patented the famous BRCA genes. So he sued them.

In his upcoming book, The Genome Defense: Inside the Epic Legal Battle to Determine Who Owns Your DNAJorge Contreras gives us a front-row seat as Hansen and a team of ACLU lawyers, along with a committed group of activists, scientists, and physicians, take their one-in-a-million case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tune in to hear the discussion with Contreras and expert panelists on this landmark case and remaining unresolved questions in genetics law.

Join the conversation or submit questions on Twitter @PetrieFlom using #GenomeDefense.


  • Introduction and Moderator: I. Glenn Cohen, Faculty Director, Petrie-Flom Center; James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law; and Deputy Dean, Harvard Law School
  • Jorge L. Contreras, Author and Professor, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah
  • Jonathan D. Kahn, Professor of Law and Biology, Northeastern University School of Law
  • Jessica Silbey, Professor of Law and Yanakakis Faculty Research Scholar, Boston University School of Law

Co-sponsored by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law SchoolHarvard Law School Library, and Harvard Book Store, which is a locally owned, independently run Cambridge landmark since 1932.




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