Larry Gostin

Lawrence Oglethorpe Gostin (born October 19, 1949) is an American law professor who specializes in public health law. He was a Fulbright Fellow and is best known as the author of the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act and as a significant contributor to journals on medicine and law.

Lawrence O. Gostin
Born (1949-10-19) October 19, 1949 (age 70)
New York City [1]
Alma materState University of New York at Brockport (B.A., Psychology, 1971)
Duke Law School (J.D., 1974)
Scientific career
FieldsPublic health law
Notable studentsAlexandra Phelan

Early life and educationEdit

Larry Gostin was born in New York City in 1949, the son of Joseph and Sylvia Gostin. He received his B.A. in psychology from the State University of New York at Brockport in 1971 and his J.D. from Duke Law School in 1974.

He was an adjunct professor at Harvard University from 1986 to 1994 and went on to be a professor of law at Georgetown University's Law Center and a professor of law and public health at Johns Hopkins University's School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Career in health lawEdit

From January 1984 to 1985, Gostin was general secretary of the National Council for Civil Liberties in the United Kingdom. From 1986 to 1994, he was executive director of the American Society for Law, Medicine, and Bioethics. He worked on Hillary Clinton's health plan, serving as chairman of the health information privacy and public health committees of the President's Task Force on Health Care Reform.

His proposed Model State Emergency Health Powers Act ignited a firestorm of controversy across the ideological spectrum, from Phyllis Schlafly to LAMBDA, for being overly broad and ripe for abuse.

He is also Professor of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University and Director of the Center for Law & the Public's Health at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities—A Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is Adjunct Professor of Public Health (Faculty of Medical Sciences) and Research Fellow (Centre for Socio-Legal Studies) at Oxford University.

Gostin chairs a World Health Organization project on the law and ethics of public health strategies for pandemic influenza and is leading a drafting team on developing a Model Public Health Law for the World Health Organization.

In a January 25, 2020 interview with NPR, Gostin argued against travel restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, stating, “The risk is extraordinarily low for people in the United States.”[2]

He is the Linda D. and Timothy J. O'Neill Professor of Global Health Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he directs the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.[3]

Awards and honoursEdit

  • 1994, the Chancellor of the State University of New York conferred an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree.
  • 2006, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Vice Chancellor awarded Cardiff University's (Wales) highest honor, an Honorary Fellow.
  • Elected lifetime Member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences.
  • 2006, the IOM awarded Gostin the Adam Yarmolinsky Medal.
  • He has received the Rosemary Delbridge Memorial Award from the National Consumer Council (U.K.) for the person "who has most influenced Parliament and government to act for the welfare of society."
  • Received the Key to Tohoko University (Japan) for distinguished contributions to human rights in mental health.
  • At the CDC Public Health Law Conference in 2006, he received the Public Health Law Association Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award "in recognition of a career devoted to using law to improve the public's health."
  • He is an elected fellow of the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institution.


  • Principles of Mental Health Law and Policy (co-author; Oxford University Press. 2010)
  • Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint (University of California Press and Milbank Memorial Fund, 2nd ed. 2008)
  • Public Health Ethics: Theory, Policy and Practice (Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • The AIDS Pandemic: Complacency, Injustice, and Unfulfilled Expectations (University of North Carolina Press, 2004)
  • The Human Rights of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities: Different But Equal (Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • Public Health Law and Ethics: A Reader (University of California Press and Milbank Memorial Fund, 2002)


  1. ^ Gostin, Lawrence, "A Beautiful Life in a Vibrant Yet Vulnerable City", The Milbank Quarterly, June 2018
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Faculty Profile: Lawrence Gostin", O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit