O'Neill Institute

O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law Newsletter - April 2016

O'Neill Institute
O'Neill Institute
O'Neill Institute Newsletter

APRIL 2016



Global Health Law LL.M. Alumni and Student Happy Hour
Wednesday, April 20
5:30 pm-7:30 pm

Georgetown Convening on the Zika Epidemic
Friday, April 22
9:00 am-1:00 pm
Bioethics Research Library, Healy Hall
Georgetown University

RSVP here

Vote Food 2016
Friday, June 3
9:00 am-5:00 pm
Georgetown University Law Center
More info here

2016 Health Privacy Summit
June 7-8, 2016
Georgetown University Law Center
More info here

See All News & Events


Danger in the Water: The Epidemic of Lead Across America
By: Anna Roberts, O'Neill Institute Fellow

Mexico's First Real Attempt to Legalize Cannabis
By: Fernanda Alonso, O'Neill Institute Associate

The Importance of Knowing the History of HIV and AIDS
By: Sean Bland, O'Neill Institute Associate 

HHS Guidance on Syringe Service Programs Provides Substantive Support for HCV and HIV Infection Reduction Efforts Among Injection Drug Users
By: Sonia Canzater, O'Neill Institute Associate 

American Women's Reproductive Health at Stake in Whole Women's Health and Zubik
By: Rebecca Reingold, O'Neill Institute Associate 

See All Blog Posts


Previous editions of the newsletter can be found here


It has been a busy spring for the O'Neill Institute. As highlighted below, we continue to engage in the global dialogue around the Zika response. Our Faculty Director, Larry Gostin testified before the United States Congress about the U.S. public health response to Zika, Jeff Crowley and Dan Lucey presented in the Inter-American Dialogue's symposium on Capitol Hill, and members of our team provide important commentary on the evolving crisis.

On the NCDs and human rights front, we, with our colleagues at the Inter-American Heart Foundation and ASH, presented at the April hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on "The Right to Health and Tobacco Addiction in the Americas" - the first time the Commission has explored the intersection between tobacco control and human rights.

We look forward to our exciting and important events coming up in the next few months, including the Vote Food 2016 conference, Health Privacy Summit, and the Global School Health Rights Litigation Course.

Finally, I would like to wish our Associate, Kathy Shats, well on her professional journey as she leaves us to join the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  On behalf of our team, all the best!


The O'Neill Institute has been highly engaged in the ongoing dialogue around the Zika crisis and response. Below is a sampling of our publications, lectures, blog posts, and other engagement around Zika.

  • April 13, Lawrence Gostin participates in #ReutersZika Twitter chat with other public health experts, including Tom Friedan (U.S. CDC), World Health Organization, and the Harvard School of Public Health.
  • March 24, Oscar A. Cabrera participated in a conversation with members of the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health and Rights about the response to the current Zika outbreak in Latin America. Oscar discussed the limitations to an effective public health response to Zika in the region, such as the failure to include efforts to mitigate the impact of the outbreak on women’s sexual and reproductive health and to strengthen the health systems of the affected countries.
  • As of Early 2016 the O'Neill Institute has provided significant commentary to various media outlets on Zika, including ABC News, the New York Times, NPR, Reuters, the Toronto Star, USA Today, and the Washington Post.

We continue our profile series about our associates, fellows and faculty as described “in their own words.” In this edition, meet Sonia L. Canzater, an O'Neill Institute Associate. Sonia holds a JD from the University of South Carolina School of Law, a Master of Public Health from the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Temple University.
OI: When did you first realize that a career at the intersection of public health and policy was a good fit for you?

I credit the passage of the Affordable Care Act with affirming my decision to work in health law and policy. I had already been working in public health for several years when the law was passed. I have strong convictions about health care being affordable and accessible to all Americans regardless of income or employment status, and seeing the US making substantive strides towards eliminating the unacceptable health disparity in this country caused by so many people being uninsured felt like my sign that I would now have the opportunities to effect the changes I want to see in the American health care system if I entered into the health policy realm…. So, here I am.
OI: What was your path to the O’Neill Institute?

Prior to moving to the Washington area, I lived in Columbia, South Carolina for 12 years. There, I worked for the department of health for several years. I did preventive care and educational interventions for maternal and child health. Educating and empowering people to be good stewards of their own health is important to me. However, it was at the department of health where I learned firsthand just how difficult it was for many to access health care for themselves and their children. I also had to deal with the frustrating repercussions of beneficial public health programs being cut due to budgeting or for political reasons. Part of my job was to inform people that their services were ending, and trying, often futilely, to find them alternative assistance.  My experiences at the department of health spurred me to pursue my Masters in Public Health so I could better understand the field and figure out what role I could play in improving the nation’s public health programs. As I mentioned, the passage of the ACA was a turning point for me, so I decided to return to school for a law degree. I felt that melding my public health experience with legal knowledge would best equip me for the health policy field. I also figured that I would need to move to where the big decisions were made in order to get into public health policy, so I moved to the DC area and sought health law and policy positions, and I found the perfect one here at the O’Neill Institute. 

Sonia's Full Q&A


Oscar A. Cabrera and Partners from Inter-American Heart Foundation Argentina and ASH
(April 5, 2016, Photo Credit: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights)
  • April 6, Oscar Cabrera spoke at an Inter-American Dialogue event on criminal abortion laws in Latin America, focusing primarily on the human rights violations resulting from breaches of provider-patient confidentiality in the region.
  • April 5, Oscar Cabrera and representatives from Fundación Interamericana del Corazón -Argentina and Action on Smoking and Health participated in a hearing on “The Right to Health and Tobacco Addiction in the Americas” before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
  • March 30, the International Legal Research Interest Group (“ILRIG”) of ASIL selected the Global Health and Human Rights Database as the recipient of this year's Jus Gentium Award. The award recognizes important contributions in the area of providing and enhancing open access to legal information resources in international law. 
  • March 28-29, the O'Neill Institute, in partnership with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), hosted a meeting to examine how marijuana products could be regulated most effectively to protect and promote public health. More information can be found here.


The 2016 Global School Health Rights Litigation course takes place June 13-17 at Georgetown Law in Washington DC.  As part of the course, participants will have the opportunity to tour the U.S. Supreme Court and compete in a moot court competition. Highlights of the tour include the courtroom, visitor’s film, a courtroom lecture, and court-related exhibitions, among others.
Participants will also have the opportunity to participate in a moot court competition, where they will argue the merits of a hypothetical case that focuses on a forward-looking health rights topic.  Drawing from lessons learned throughout the course, the competition will take place on the final day in Georgetown Law’s Supreme Court Institute’s Moot Courtroom – a near exact replica of the U.S. Supreme Court’s courtroom.
Justices for the moot competition will be drawn from the distinguished speakers of the course and other noted scholars.  We anticipate a thoughtful, informed, and lively exchange between course participants and mock justices. Additional information about the course can be found here.



Hua-Hie Young, Ron Borland, K. Michael Cummings, Eric N. Lindblom et al., US smokers’ beliefs, experiences and perceptions of different cigarette variants before and after the FSPTCA ban on misleading descriptors such as ‘light’, ‘mild’, or ‘low', Nicotine & Tobacco Research, Epub before print (April 15, 2016). 

Lawrence O. Gostin & James G. Hodge, Is the United States Prepared for a Major Zika Virus Outbreak? JAMA (published online April 13, 2016).

Dan Lucey, What is Past is Prologue: Lessons Learned from Combating Pan-EpidemicsUnited Nations Academic Impact (April 7, 2016).
Alexandra Phelan and Lawrence Gostin, The Human Rights Dimensions of Zika, United Nations Academic Impact (April 4, 2016).

Daniel Lucey, Will Zika Virus and Microcephaly Epidemics Emerge After Ebola in West Africa? The Need for Prospective Studies Now, Health Security (March 17, 2016).



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