FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: Stacey Tovino
Stacey Tovino is one of the Boyd School of Law’s most prolific scholars and most popular teachers. She is a leading expert in health law, bioethics, and the medical humanities.
Among her dozen publications since 2012 is A “Common” Proposal, an article about the regulation of human subjects research involving adults with impaired decision-making capacity. The set of federal regulations generally governing this type of research, a set of rules referred to as the Common Rule, includes additional protections for certain vulnerable research subjects. But conspicuously absent from the list of protected groups are those with neurological, psychiatric, or developmental conditions that may impair decision-making.
Professor Tovino tackles the question who, if anyone, should be permitted to consent to research on behalf of these individuals. Lacking federal guidance on this issue, a problematic patchwork of different state approaches has filled the void. More recently, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking input on several areas and posing dozens of specific questions. With a Ph.D. in the Medical Humanities and extensive experience both as a lawyer and scholar in health law, Professor Tovino lends her expertise.
Professor Tovino examines the pertinent issues at length, including a particularly interesting discussion of the conflation by some states of the paradigms of treatment and research. As she explains, treatment and research are fundamentally distinct endeavors — with different purposes, strategies and relationships. Accordingly, it is a serious problem when states use the treatment paradigm to resolve research paradigm questions.
The article concludes with a proposal that contains a new subpart that Professor Tovino urges the Department of Health and Human Services to add to the Common Rule.
This article is a terrific example of scholarship with impact. With work that other scholars recognize and engage, and with work that drives the discussion of public policy, Boyd leads.