Center for Intellectual Property and Innovation
The Right to Science and Culture
My research lies at the intersection of intellectual property and human rights. I seek to understand and explain the ways in which intellectual property law impacts the enjoyment of human rights, ranging from the right to health to the right to education to the right to take part in cultural life and share in access to new technologies. In developing this work, I am engaged in a conversation both with other scholars, and with the international processes and fora through which communities claim their human rights, courts and other bodies interpret human rights provisions, and policymakers translate human rights priorities into action. Recently my work on "the right to science and culture" has been relied upon by processes at the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Special Rapporteur in the Field of Cultural Rights. Among the goals of these processes is to articulate what values are implicated by the abstract statement that "everyone has the right to take part in cultural life and to share in the benefits of scientific progress and its applications" and how those values should concretely be implemented in law and policy. From the perspective of translational research, this process is particularly interesting, because part of the vision for this "right to science" is to understand the academic and scientific enterprise as fundamentally targeted at the solution of shared human problems. This implies an ethical obligation on the part of researchers to ensure that their work benefits people broadly. My work draws on perspectives from economics, anthropology, history, philosophy, science and technology studies, literature, and of course, the law.