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Moritz to increase health law expertise in 2013-14

June 3, 2013 | Faculty

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law is expanding its footprint in health law, and two new professors will be critical in those efforts next academic year.

Micah Berman and Efthimios Parasidis are emerging scholars who have incredible practical experience in the areas of health law, public health law and policy, bioethics, intellectual property, biotechnology law, and related fields. Together, they hope to expand the study of health law across various units at the University and interest students in pursuing an area of law that has fascinated them.

“Health law is an exhilarating practice area that challenges students and attorneys to think about the micro and macro impact of legal doctrine and policy decisions,” Parasidis said. “Being a health care lawyer can be a really rewarding and enjoyable life experience.”

How law can influence clinical care and health care delivery is something Parasidis enjoys discussing with his students at St. Louis University School of Law – and it’s a discussion he intends to continue with students in his Health Law class at Moritz this fall. He expects to teach courses on property law and another health-related topic in the spring. He shared big dreams he has for activities outside of the classroom as well.

“I want to help expand the health law community in Columbus,” Parasidis said. “I want to build bridges between students and the local bar and between other colleges at the University. Ohio State has so many health-related resources, there will be no shortage of opportunities.”

Parasidis holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from The College of New Jersey, a master’s degree in bioethics from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

He was an associate in the litigation group of Jones Day in New York City and later the intellectual property group at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, also in New York. In between, he worked for the Office of the New York State Attorney General, defending the state in lawsuits and also co-founded a startup company, Global Health Outcomes Inc. The company is a health care research and analytics firm that uses novel metrics to measure and assess patient health outcomes. Parasidis also is a co-inventor on a patent application related to health information technology and comparative effectiveness research.

He has won several awards for teaching and scholarship, and the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics recently selected him as a Health Law Scholar. Parasidis also consults for the American College of Physicians on issues related to conflicts of interest in the medical and pharmaceutical industries, and he served on the Law and Policy Workgroup of the Missouri Health Connection, which is responsible for creating Missouri’s health information exchange.

Berman echoed Parasidis’ thoughts on the opportunities to further the study and practice of health law in Columbus.

“This is home to me,” said Berman, a graduate of Bexley High School, “but, really, the opportunity to work with all of the terrific people at Ohio State is a huge draw.”

Berman will have a joint appointment with the Moritz College of Law and the College of Public Health. He also will join scholars and medical experts from across campus in contributing to the body of study at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

Berman is no stranger to interdisciplinary work.

After wrapping up his work on behalf of a U.S. Senate candidate in 2004, he was asked to lead the Tobacco Public Policy Center at Capital University Law School. His career made the monumental shift toward public health law and policy in that moment.

“We have a product out there that’s killing 400,000 people a year in the U.S., and it just didn’t make a lot of sense to me why we weren’t treating this as an emergency. If anything else out there was killing 400,000 people a year, it would be in the news every night,” he said. “I was excited that the state of Ohio was looking to create a project to address smoking-related deaths.”

With a $1.2 million grant, Berman helped establish and direct a center that served as a legal and policy resource for advocates, public health officials, and policymakers looking to reduce tobacco use in Ohio. He explored legal policies and drafted smoke-free laws, and he assisted in helping school and hospital campuses to become smoke-free.

The experience with public and private policy prepared him for related work in Boston, where he was the founder and director for the Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy, which was funded in part by a $2.5 million grant from the State of New York. Berman spearheaded this center that provided legal research, policy development, and educational programming for tobacco control efforts in New York and helped shape the tobacco policy initiatives of the Vermont Department of Health.

Those states already had smoke-free laws and high taxes on tobacco products. So Berman focused on developing “the next generation of tobacco-control policy.” He worked on an initiative recently announced by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that would require those selling tobacco to duck the products out of sight.

Berman worked on tobacco-control issues for the FDA during a yearlong leave of absence from New England Law. He took it to join his wife, Rachel Bloomekatz, in Washington, D.C. while she clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the 2011-12 term.

At Moritz, Berman will teach Public Health Law in the spring. The course focuses on the government’s authority to address threats to public health and limits on that authority. Students should take a public health law course, he said, not only because it gives broader perspective about the far-reaching effects of law, but also because it is a great opportunity to see how various areas of law come together.

“When you talk about Public Health Law, you’re talking about constitutional law, property law, tort law, contracts, and other issues that cut across many doctrinal areas. For upper-level students, it’s an interesting way to engage these different types of subjects, and see how they all come together to govern what we as a society can do to protect our health,” he said.