Georgetown University Law Center and the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health will collaborate to create a new center designed to promote law in medicine, the Law Center announced last week.

The Center for Law and the Public’s Health will be located on Johns Hopkins School of Public Health campus in East Baltimore, and is intended “to strengthen the contribution law makes to improved health,” according to a press release.

“Increasingly, lawyers play a critical role in how our society approaches health policy and biomedical ethics issues,” said Judith Areen, dean of the Law Center.

Georgetown and Johns Hopkins officials hope the center “will bring more and better information and resources to the national dialogue on a range of public health issues confronting society today,” Areen said.

The center was established in October with a $900,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention following a lengthy review process. The Centers for Disease Control will join the new center in conducting research, training and education.

Anthony D. Moulton, Ph.D., the director of a CDC program dedicated to public health, believes that the center will function as “a valuable new resource helping public health practitioners and attorneys, public policy makers and the public understand and apply law and policy as tools for the prevention of disease and injury.”

Lawrence Gostin and Stephen Teret will direct the CLPH. Gostin is a professor of law at Georgetown and a professor of law and public health at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. He is co-director of the Georgetown/Johns Hopkins Joint Degree in Public Health and Law. Teret is a professor of health policy and management at the School of Hygiene and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Gostin said he expects that the CLPH will transform the field of health law through “expanding the focus to the health of communities by identifying innovative ways to use law as a tool to promote the health of the population.”

He said that the CLPH will be devoted to ensuring “the conditions for the public’s health” through the careful examination of the duties of both the government and the private sector with respect to health care.

Georgetown and Johns Hopkins previously had a cooperative relationship that allows graduate students at both schools to pursue a joint degree in public health and law. The creation of this center will strengthen the collaborative efforts between the two schools and the CDC, while simultaneously broadening the previously narrow field of health law. While health law has traditionally focused on the financial and administrative aspects of public health, it is now moving toward a more personal emphasis that ensures that individuals receive the best health care possible, according to a press release from the CLPH.

By highlighting the relationship between law and public health issues, the CLPH will “enhance the visibility and effectiveness of law as a tool for the promotion of the public’s health,” Teret said.

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