Why Health Policy and Ethics Matter

Law and policy are powerful tools in public health.  From preventing toxic dumping of pollutants to protecting the legal rights of vulnerable groups, public health law has a critical role in creating healthier, safer communities. Public health and health care practitioners, researchers, policymakers, advocates and other partners need legal expertise to help them develop, implement and enforce laws that help solve public health problems. At the same time, they need to understand the moral underpinnings of public health, with its goal of balancing the protection of the individual with the well-being of communities through a scientific and effective approach.

Current Research

UNC currently offers a dual degree program in law and public health through UNC School of Law and the Gillings School Department of Health Policy and Management. Our faculty have also been leaders in devising a code of ethics for public health.  We provide globally focused training on theoretical and practical aspects of public health ethics, patient and community advocacy, and professional conduct. We have also forged a strong relationship with the North Carolina Division of Public Health in order to assist them with policy development around issues such as tobacco control regulation.  Our experts participate in studies initiated and task forces convened by the North Carolina Legislature and the North Carolina Institute of Medicine.

The Gillings School’s Institute of Public Health hosts the Southeast’s regional center of the Network for Public Health Law, delivering technical assistance, education and training to enable public health practitioners, lawyers, and policymakers to apply the law to pressing public health issues. The regional center works closely with the North Carolina office of the National Health Law Program, considered national experts on legal aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

The Gillings School also has its own policy on accepting funds from tobacco companies, which prohibits any faculty, departments, or centers at the Gillings School from accepting funding or gifts from tobacco companies.

Additional Research in the Field of Public Health Law and Ethics

Study predicts tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in Colombia would reduce consumption, boost government revenue

New study explores unique ethical challenges of early-phase HIV cure research

Savings less than expected for generic oral chemotherapy, study finds

New study investigates perceptions, ethics of treatment interruptions in HIV cure research

Medicaid expansions affects rural and urban hospitals differently, study finds

Children’s Health Insurance Program Extended for Two More Years

Gillings Researchers Win Fogarty Awards to Promote Ethics in DRC

High upfront costs could delay access to life-saving blood cancer drugs for Medicare patients


Highlighted Leaders in the Field