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Mason and McCall Smith's Law and Medical Ethics

Mason and McCall Smith's Law and Medical Ethics (12th edn)

Anne-Maree Farrell and Edward S. Dove
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date: 26 February 2024

p. 1546. Health Research and Innovationlocked

p. 1546. Health Research and Innovationlocked

  • A. M. FarrellA. M. FarrellChair of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Edinburgh
  •  and E. S. DoveE. S. DoveReader in Health Law and Regulation at the University of Edinburgh


This chapter covers the regulatory environment of health research and biotechnological innovation in the UK, with some specific focus on genomics (including gene editing), artificial intelligence, and brain organoids. The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated the limitations and strengths of a regulatory regime that enables (or thwarts) research into life-saving treatments and vaccines, as well as the importance of sharing data within and across organisations and institutions to address health emergencies. The chapter covers the governance of health research (focusing on biomedical research), the regimes that seek to promote innovation in science and medicine while accounting for the risks of biomedical research, as well as the development of research ethics codes. Following Brexit, the UK’s regulatory landscape for health research is somewhat in flux, with a flurry of policy papers and consultations regarding proposed legislative reform. As such, it remains to be seen what the contours of the landscape will be, and whether it promotes or hinders innovation—and creates fewer or greater risks for patients and research participants.

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