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Cambridge Public Health


Kathy Liddell is the Herchel Smith Reader in Intellectual Property Law and Medical Law and Director of the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Her work focuses on health, medicine and society, with the aim of understanding and improving the legal frameworks that govern and support improvements in this field. Her engagement with Cambridge Public Health stems from her position as Director of the Centre for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, at the Faculty of Law. This in turn stems from her longstanding involvement in current public policy issues and academic research in medical law and ethics.

She is an expert in intellectual property and information governance in the field of life sciences and has been the principal investigator for several large projects on intellectual property rights and bioinnovation, including in relation to genomics, precision medicine, repurposing pharmaceuticals, and antimicrobial resistance. She has a special interest in the regulation of emerging health technologies.

Dr Liddell has worked on policy reports for national health departments, national ethical advisory commissions, and the European Commission. She is the recipient of grants from (for example) the Wellcome Trust, the Philomathia Foundation, the Cambridge ESRC-Impact Acceleration Account, and the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Her expertise extends to other areas of life sciences including national and international regulation of medical negligence, mental capacity, informed consent, clinical trials, biomaterials (including human tissue, cells, organs), the European GDPR, biodata (including large biobanks), pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and personalised and regenerative medicine. In relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, she has worked extensively on legal and ethical issues raised by scarcity of resources (e.g. ventilators, ICU beds, clinical scheduling), symptomatic testing and asymptomatic screening of large cohorts (e.g. 15,000 on-campus University students), contact tracing technologies (including smart phone apps and wearable tracing devices), and acceptable strategies for isolating residents who walk about in care homes.

Dr Liddell uses a wide range of interdisciplinary methodologies in her research including standard legal methodologies, interviews, surveys and patent mapping. She studied law and natural sciences at the University of Melbourne before undertaking a Masters of Bioethics at Monash University and her doctorate in law at the University of Oxford. In addition to academia, Dr Liddell has worked in private legal practice and in the civil service.