The University of Texas at Austin   School of Law

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice

Partners for change at the intersection of academics and advocacy.


Fall 2014 Colloquium Biographies

George Annas is the William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Law, Bioethics & Human Rights at Boston University School of Public Health. In addition, he is also Professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and School of Law. He is the co-founder of Global Lawyers and Physicians, a transnational professional association of lawyers and physicians working together to promote human rights and health. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the Institute of Medicine, vice-chair of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Health Rights and Bioethics (Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section), and a member of the Committee on Human Rights of the National Academy of Sciences. He has also held a variety of government regulatory posts, including Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, Chair of the Massachusetts Health Facilities Appeals Board, and Chair of the Massachusetts Organ Transplant Task Force. Annas is the author or editor of nineteen books on health law and bioethics, including Worst Case Bioethics: Death, Disaster, and Public Health, American Bioethics: Crossing Human Rights and Health Law Boundaries, and The Rights of Patients. In addition, he has written regular features for both the Hastings Center Report and the American Journal of Public Health, and is currently writing a regular feature for the New England Journal of Medicine. Annas has been called “the father of patient rights,” “the doyen of American medico-legal analysts,” and a “national treasure.” After graduating from law school, he clerked for Justice John V. Spalding of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and then moved to Boston to become Director of the Center for Law and Health Sciences at Boston University School of Law. He earned an AB in economics from Harvard University, a JD from Harvard Law School, and an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, where he was a Joseph P. Kennedy Fellow in Medical Ethics.

Didier Fassin is the James D. Wolfensohn Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, the Director of Studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, the president of Comité Medical pour les Exilés, and an associate editor for Medical Anthropology. He is the founder of Institut de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les Enjeux Sociaux and former vice president of Médecins Sans Frontières. An anthropologist and a sociologist, Fassin has conducted fieldwork in Senegal, Ecuador, South Africa, and France. Trained as a physician in internal medicine and public health, he dedicated his early research to medical anthropology, illuminating important dimensions of the AIDS epidemic, mortality disparities, and global health. More recently, he has developed the field of critical moral anthropology, which explores the historical, social, and political signification of moral forms involved in everyday judgment and action as well as international relations. He is currently conducting an ethnography of the state, through a study of police, justice, and prison, and analyzes the possible contribution of the social sciences to a public debate regarding security, punishment, and inequality. His recent books include The Empire of Trauma: An Inquiry Into the Condition of Victimhood (2009), Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present (2011), and Enforcing Order: An Ethnography of Urban Policing (2013). He has published articles in the American Journal for Public Health, Current Anthropology, and Social Science and Medicine, and occasionally writes for the French newspapers Le Monde and Libération. Fassin earned an MD from Université Pierre et Marie Curie, an MPH from the University of Paris, and a PhD from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.

Sofia Gruskin is Director of the Program on Global Health & Human Rights and Professor of Preventive Medicine and Professor of Law at the University of Southern California. She is also Adjunct Professor of Global Health at the Harvard School of Public Health and joint coordinator of the Rights-Oriented Research and Education (RORE) Network in Sexual and Reproductive Health. Her work has been instrumental in the conceptual, methodological, and empirical development of the linkage between health and human rights, with a focus on HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, child and adolescent health, gender-based violence, and health systems. She has extensive experience in research, training, and programmatic work with nongovernmental, governmental, and intergovernmental organizations working in the fields of health and human rights around the world. Gruskin is currently an associate editor for The American Journal of Public Health, Global Public Health, and Reproductive Health Matters. In addition to having published articles in these journals, she has also contributed to the Journal of the International AIDS Society and the Journal of Public Health Policy and is author or editor of multiple books, including Health and Human Rights in a Changing World, Perspectives on Health and Human Rights, and Health and Human Rights: A Reader. Gruskin earned a JD from Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardoza School of Law and an MIA from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Lovell Jones is Professor Emeritus at both UT MD Anderson Cancer Center and the UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Before he retired, he was Professor in the Department of Health Disparities Research and in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at MD Anderson as well as Research Professor of Social Work at the University of Houston. He is the founding co-chair of the Intercultural Cancer Council, the nation’s largest multicultural health policy group focused on minorities, the medically underserved, and cancer. In addition, he is the founder of the Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research and Training (HDEART) Consortium, which attempts to address health disparities utilizing the "Biopsychosocial Model.” He has served on the board of directors of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Prostate Health Council of the American Foundation for Urologic Diseases. Dr. Jones also served on the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable for Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine and on the Environmental Protection Agency's Scientific Advisory Panel. He has published over 120 articles on subjects ranging from hormonal carcinogenesis to health policy in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. His current research projects include an examination of diet and exercise in reducing the risk of breast cancer and preventing tumor recurrence in breast cancer survivors, and an investigation of the relationship between the environment and genes in the development of disease in migrant farm worker children. Dr. Jones earned a PhD in zoology, with an emphasis on endocrinology and tumor biology, from the University of California, Berkeley.

Mitchell Katz is currently the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Dr. Katz started off as head of research in the AIDS Office in San Francisco’s public health department. He launched his rise through the ranks as the director or chief of the department’s other offices—including epidemiology, emergency medical services, and community health and safety—until he was named director of health in 1997. As the head of San Francisco’s Department of Health, he oversaw a $1.5 billion budget, about 8,600 employees, two hospitals, and nine health care centers. In 2007, Katz was one of several San Francisco health leaders who started Healthy San Francisco (HSF), a comprehensive medical care program for the city’s 60,000 uninsured adults. HSF provides outpatient, inpatient, laboratory, behavioral health, and pharmacy services at 14 public health clinics and a private hospital-based clinic. He also worked on an initiative that took more than 1,000 chronically homeless people out of shelters and placed them in supportive housing, and serves as principal investigator in three studies testing new drugs for treating children and adolescents with Crohn’s disease. Dr. Katz has published articles in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, JAMA Internal Medicine, and Pain Practice. He has also published several books, including Multivariable Analysis: A Practical Guide for Clinicians and Public Health Researchers and Evaluating Clinical and Public Health Interventions: A Practical Guide to Study Design and Statistics. Katz earned a BA in psychology from Yale University and an MD from Harvard Medical School. He then completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar.

Raj Patel is a Research Professor in the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin and a Visiting Professor at the Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University (UHURU), South Africa. He has been a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies, an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and continues to be a fellow at The Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First. He was also an IATP Food and Community Fellow from 2011-2013, and co-taught the 2014 Edible Education class at UC Berkeley with Michael Pollan. Patel has worked for the World Bank and WTO, and protested against them around the world. He has also testified about the causes of the global food crisis to the US House Financial Services Committee and is an Advisor to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. In addition to numerous scholarly publications in economics, philosophy, politics, and public health journals, he regularly writes for The Guardian, and has contributed to the Financial Times, LA Times, NYTimes.com, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Mail on Sunday, and The Observer. His first book was Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and his latest, The Value of Nothing, is a New York Times best seller. He is currently working on a documentary about the global food system with award-winning director Steve James. Patel earned a BA from the University of Oxford, a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics, and a PhD from Cornell University.