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ASU to offer 1st master's degree in biotech, genomics law

Josh Kelley
The Arizona Republic
July 8, 2004

Arizona State University's law college next year will offer the country's first advanced legal degree in biotechnology and genomics.

The move comes as worldwide demand for scientific legal expertise rapidly increases, school officials said.

The one-year master's program, authorized last week by the Arizona Board of Regents, has already sparked the interest of local law students, and of people in countries ranging from South Korea to Brazil.

The new program will prepare lawyers for cases involving a range of complex ethical and scientific issues, including cloning, genetic privacy, medical malpractice, pharmaceutics, genetic engineering and in-vitro fertilization, said Gary Marchant, executive director of the law school's Center for Law, Science and Technology, which will support the program. Marchant said that when he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1990, none of the country's top legal firms even handled biotechnology cases. Now, he said, biotech cases are piling up by the thousands.

"In 14 years it's gone from absolutely nothing to this huge, booming area of the law," said Marchant, who holds a doctorate in genetics.

"It's going to expand even more in the future . . . especially here," he said.

Marchant plans to enroll 10 students in fall 2005.

Faculty in science and law will train lawyers in classes addressing legal aspects of biotechnology and genetics. The program also will offer research projects and elective classes covering subjects ranging from intellectual property rights to health care.