Briefing Room


New faces on the faculty: Three bring expertise in health law, national security, lawmaking

July 2, 2013 | Faculty

When students at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law return to classes this fall, they will have the opportunity to learn from three new dynamic faculty members.

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.

Dakota Rudesill has spent much of his career in lawmaking and national security. He brings a unique philosophy to the classroom about the interplay between law and four Ps: politics, policy, processes, and personalities. His practical experience certainly will be valuable to students taking his courses and through the Moritz Legislation Clinic.

Introducing broader perspectives

Berman had recently wrapped up his work on a U.S. Senate candidate’s bid in 2004 when he was presented with an interesting opportunity in the Buckeye State.

Could he figure out ways for law to assist those trying to reduce tobacco-related deaths?

“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.”

Berman became the executive director of the Tobacco Public Policy Center at Capital University Law School, and his career made the monumental shift toward public health law and policy. Berman will teach courses on those topics through a joint appointment at Moritz and the College of Public Health.

“A lot of times in law school, you’re thinking about an individual and an individual’s rights. Public health introduces a broader perspective: What does this law do to a population as a whole?” he said.

Berman will be teaching Public Health Law – a course he is familiar with

teaching at both Capital University and, most recently, at New England Law in Boston, where he held a tenure-track appointment. 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.

Early cases in public health law dealt with infectious disease, quarantine, and isolation. In modern times, there’s been a move toward using law to find solutions for chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.

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 founded and directed the Center for Public Health and Tobacco Policy. The center 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.

“There’s been a lot of progress in protecting people from secondhand smoke, but there’s more that can and needs to be done in reducing smoking rates,” Berman said. “Another big change – for which the success has yet to be measured – is the Food and Drug Administration’s newfound authority to regulate tobacco products.”

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. The couple met in 2004, when Bloomekatz was working for the Kerry-Edwards campaign and Berman was the political director for the Fingerhut for U.S. Senate campaign.

Coming to Columbus is a bit of a homecoming for both. Even though Bloomekatz is not from the city originally, her parents are professors at the College of Education and Human Ecology. Berman grew up in Columbus, graduating from Bexley High School before going on to earn a bachelor’s in public policy from Brandeis University and his J.D. from Stanford Law School.

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

In addition to his joint appointment at two colleges, Berman 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.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to do more interdisciplinary research with people from all across the university. It will be great to connect with people doing epidemiological research on cancer at the College of Public Health or medical research at the Wexner Medical Center,” Berman said. “There are a lot of exciting synergies to be developed working across those different fields.”

Influencing patient care

How law can influence clinical care and health care delivery is something Parasidis enjoyed discussing with his students at St. Louis University School of Law – the nation’s top-ranked health law program for 10 consecutive years. It’s a discussion he intends to continue when he arrives at Moritz this fall.

“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. I find it very rewarding to share my experiences with students and help guide them as they consider or prepare for a career in the health care industry,” he said.

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.

“Lawyers play an integral role with biotech startup companies because there are so many IP, corporate, and regulatory issues that scientists often have no clue about,” he said, “There’s a lot of energy in startup companies and a lot of room for creativity from a legal perspective.”

Parasidis has contributed to the study of health law in the U.S. and abroad as well.

As a Fulbright Fellow, he researched informed consent policies in Greece and the legal and ethical issues associated with them. He also is working on a book that explores the legal and regulatory framework governing biomedical research by the military and the use of biomedical enhancements on soldiers. Additionally, he is researching how health information technology can be leveraged by the FDA to improve post-market surveillance of medical products.

“While industry has been quick to capitalize on health IT, regulators have been slow to integrate new technologies and advancements, and thus there is a lot of room for improvement,” Parasidis said.

Parasidis 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.

His recent research includes analyzing the policies of the top 200 research institutions in the U.S. to see what compensation they provide for participants injured in a research study. He is a co-principal investigator with researchers from the National Institutes of Health, and the results are expected to be published soon.

Parasidis said he always wanted to teach but sought out opportunities in the public and private sectors so he could be more effective in the classroom. 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 will teach Health Law in the fall at Moritz and expects to teach courses on property law and another health-related topic in the spring. He also will have a joint appointment with the College of Public Health.

“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.”

Health law is a growing area, Parasidis said, adding that health care accounts for over 17 percent of the gross domestic product. The complexities that cover administrative law, corporate law, tort law, constitutional law, and the regulatory state require lawyers practicing in this area to have a comprehensive background.

“Understanding how the health care industry interacts with the legal and regulatory framework is extremely important for any attorney looking to practice in this area,” he said, “and I intend to prepare my students for that.”

Parasidis and his wife, Magdalen, have a 2-year-old daughter, Anais. While the family had job opportunities that could have taken them back to the East Coast, they turned them down. “We love the peaceful life here in the Midwest, and Columbus certainly feels like a livable place,” Parasidis said. “We’re really looking forward to exploring the city and taking advantage of the parks and cultural aspects – not to mention supporting local farmers who are using sustainable farming methods. We’re excited.”

Exploring intersection of law, politics

Rudesill keenly remembers the feeling of dread when he heard in 1983 that the Soviet Union had walked out of nuclear arms talks. As a boy growing up in snowy Fargo, N.D., he was well aware of the nuclear missile field located just a few dozen miles away. He understood that threats to national security were threats to his own life and community.

“There was a poll of my class in junior high school, and it showed that a majority of us did not think we would live to graduate from high school,” he said. “The Cold War was very much present in our thoughts on a daily basis.”

An early awareness of the far-reaching impact of actions in Washington, D.C. and around the world motivated him to pursue a career in lawmaking and national security.

At Moritz, he will teach National Security Law and Process this fall and a section of the required 1L Legislation course in the spring. Later, he will teach about cyber law. Additionally, he will be teaching the Moritz Legislation Clinic, where students work directly with legislative leaders and their staffs on matters before the Ohio House and Senate.

“Ohio State has a really exciting model,” said Rudesill, who most recently served as a visiting professor at Georgetown Law Center and interim director of its Federal Legislation & Administrative Clinic. “My students at Georgetown advocate to the legislative branch. At Ohio State, students are working inside of it. Ohio State has one of the very best legislative programs in the country.”

Rudesill has made a career of advising senior leaders in all three branches of the federal government. However, his successful career in Washington, D.C. started with a failed bid for a seat in the North Dakota Legislature at the age of 22.

“I was running against an incumbent – a 66-year-old fifth-grade teacher. There were thousands of registered voters who had been in her classroom or had kids in her classroom who thought fondly of her,” Rudesill recalled with a chuckle. “It’s a good thing I lost. She was far better prepared than I was!”

That said, Rudesill received a great introduction to politics and had the opportunity to meet U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad on the campaign trail.

Rudesill, who earned his bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and later his J.D. from Yale Law School, impressed Conrad. The senator invited Rudesill to join his staff. A year later, Rudesill was Conrad’s primary national security legislative advisor. It was a position that he stayed in for eight more years.

When Conrad became chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Rudesill became the senior professional staff member responsible for national defense, intelligence, and foreign affairs spending and drafting portions of the annual budget resolution concerning those areas. It was incredibly instructive to translate policy objectives of committee members and input from the executive branch into the legislative process.

“At the federal level, the powers of Congress and the president are at their apex when dealing with issues of national security,” Rudesill said. “Working with Sen. Conrad, I had the opportunity to work at the intersection of law, process, policy, politics, and big personalities and play a significant role. It was a remarkable experience.”

In the executive branch, Rudesill was a member of the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team. He advised two presidential nominees as they prepared for U.S. Senate confirmation hearings – Dennis C. Blair, the nominee for director of national intelligence, and Leon Panetta, nominee for director of the CIA.

Experiences like those throughout his career are what Rudesill will draw from in his classroom in Drinko Hall, where he will teach students about the way law is influenced by processes, policy, politics, and personalities. He talks about teaching with the same passion he has in discussing lawmaking.

His wife, Rebecca, had told him for years that he would be an excellent professor. Finally, he listened and became a visiting professor at Georgetown. “I had no teaching experience, but I realized in very short order that this is what I was supposed to do,” he said. “I’ve also learned that it’s good to listen to your wife.”

The couple is looking forward to raising their toddler, Kate, in the Midwest. Avid baseball fans, they also are excited that there are four major league parks just a short drive away from Columbus. Of course, there will be a new football team to root for in the autumn as well.

“We are just really excited to be moving to Columbus,” Rudesill said, “and I am looking forward to Moritz, meeting my students and colleagues, and learning with them.”