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California Western Professor Joanna Sax Awarded E. Donald Shapiro Professorship

E. Donald Shapiro Professor Joanna Sax

California Western School of Law has awarded Professor Joanna K. Sax the distinguished E. Donald Shapiro Professorship. The endowed faculty chair honors and recognizes leading health law scholars at California Western.

“I am thrilled to award this professorship to Joanna,” says California Western President and Dean Niels B. Schaumann. “Her contributions as a professor, scholar, and as an individual have been substantial. Joanna’s commitment to the interdisciplinary study of biotechnology law and food policy are invaluable to the field and to society.”

Professor Sax's research is at the nexus of law and science. Her articles address ways to incentivize the advancement of science and protect scientific inquiry and innovation. Sax analyzes and questions policies that create barriers to basic science research, mostly by focusing on NIH-funded research. In addition to basic research, she has a strong interest in the translation of advances in basic science. In this vein, Sax is widely recognized for her work on food policy, particularly FDA regulation of dietary supplements and genetically engineered food.

Sax combines her education with her legal background in her research and teaching. She has a JD and PhD in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania. After law school, Sax was an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP, and is admitted to practice in California and the Ninth Circuit.

"I am honored to be appointed to the E. Donald Shapiro Professorship, which provides opportunities to advance my research in health law and biotechnology," says Sax.

As an interdisciplinary scholar, Sax publishes in both legal and scientific journals. He recent articles include, “Biotechnology and Consumer Decision Making” in volume 47 of the Seton Hall Law Review; a co-written article with UC San Diego’s Neal Doran titled, “Food Labeling and Consumer Associations with Health, Safety and Environment,” in volume 44 of the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics; and a co-written article with Oregon State’s Steven H. Strauss titled “An End to Event-Based Regulation of GMO Crops,” in volume 34 of Nature Biotechnology.

Professor Sax directs the Institute of Health Law Studies at California Western and has an appointment as a voluntary clinical instructor at UC San Diego, Health Sciences.

Sax is the second California Western professor to be awarded this distinction and honor, which was named after California Western Dean Emeritus E. Donald Shapiro, who made significant contributions to the field of legal medicine throughout his career in private practice, as a professor of law, and as a law school dean. Shapiro was a pioneer in health law who transformed the field into an important and academically respectable part of legal education. From his landmark casebook to his cutting-edge scholarly articles, Shapiro contributed greatly to improving the legal profession’s response to medical science challenges, specifically in the areas of DNA, pharma, and bioethics.