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UH Law Center Professors Look to Future of ‘Genetics Revolution’ in Panel Discussion Oct. 29

Scientific advances affect a wide range of sectors and legal issues beyond medicine


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Sapna Kumar
Sapna Kumar
Jessica Roberts
Jessica Roberts
Barbara Evans
Barbara Evans

Oct. 28, 2013 – Three University of Houston Law Center authorities on the law of genetics will talk about their research, as well as the latest trends in biotechnology, intellectual property and genetics, in a panel discussion at the law school. The event will take place from 4 -6 p.m., Oct. 29, in the Hendricks Heritage Room.   

The panel comprises Professors Sapna Kumar, Jessica Roberts, and Barbara Evans. Each has conducted research and written extensively on genetic-related legal issues. The professors invite students and practitioners to join in a lively discussion of how lawyers can get involved with the "genetics revolution."

“Scientific advances after the Human Genome Project are starting to have broad impacts, not just in medicine, but throughout many diverse sectors of the U.S. economy,” Evans noted. “The University of Houston has one of the nation's deepest teams of professors at the very forefront of genetics-related policy issues.”

Kumar added, "Scholars and courts are only beginning to consider how intellectual property can affect the individual rights of patients. My research looks at how patents can impact the substantive due process rights of individual patients, and how current standing doctrine can leave these people without any recourse."

Roberts, widely viewed as one of the nation's leading thinkers on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, explores how genetics affects a wide range of interests within and beyond healthcare, such as employment law, criminal law and discrimination.

"Genetics is a fascinating example of how we negotiate the legal protection of health-related information,” Roberts said. “My current scholarship explores how our protection of genetic information can inform the protection of other kinds of information, as well as the current trends in genetic-information discrimination litigation."

Evans’ recent articles deal with genetics-related intentional torts, ownership and pricing of genetic data, First Amendment issues in communication of genetic data, and the looming restructuring of healthcare in response to genetic technologies.

"The recent Supreme Court decision in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad forces lawyers to think about the human genome in new ways,” said Evans, George Butler Research Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Biotechnology & Law. “If it isn't patentable subject matter, what is it?  Is it a natural resource? January changes to federal privacy regulations are pricing genetic data in ways that look a lot like traditional electricity and natural gas rate structures.  So it's a great time for lawyers from all fields to take a closer look at genetics: even if you think it's not in your field, it may actually be in your field!"

For more information: 
Media Contacts: Carrie Criado, UH Law Center Executive Director of Communications and Marketing, 713-743-2184,; John T. Kling, UH Law Center Communications Manager, 713- 743-8298,; or Stephen B. Jablonski, Multimedia Specialist, 713-743- 1634,

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 40,700 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country.

About the University of Houston Law Center
The University of Houston Law Center is the leading law school in the nation's fourth-largest city. Founded in 1947, it is a top-tier institution awarding Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees. The Law Center is fully accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.

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