Jonathan D. Kahn
Professor of Law and Biology
University of California, Berkeley, JD 1988
Cornell University, PhD 1992
Professor Kahn, a leading authority on biotechnology’s implications for our ideas of identity, rights and citizenship, with a particular focus on race and justice, holds a joint appointment with the School of Law and the Department of Biology in the College of Science. He also plays a key role in the law school’s Center for Health Policy and Law and its Center for Law, Information and Creativity (CLIC).
In this most recent book, Race on the Brain: What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong About the Struggle for Racial Justice (Columbia University Press), Professor Kahn argues that implicit bias has grown into a master narrative of race relations — one with profound, if unintended, negative consequences for law, science and society. He emphasizes its limitations, arguing that while useful as a tool to understand particular types of behavior, it is only one among several tools available to policy makers. “A pivotal work of detailed, meticulous, groundbreaking scholarship, Race on the Brain: What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong About the Struggle for Racial Justice is an extraordinarily well written, organized and presented study to the intractable work of ensuring social justice,” according to The Midwest Book Review.
In his second book, Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in a Post-Genomic Age (Columbia University Press), Professor Kahn examines the legal and commercial imperatives driving the expanding role of race in biomedicine, even as scientific advances in genomics could render the issue irrelevant. The book was awarded an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Best Book Award by the Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association. His first book, Budgeting Democracy: State-Building and Citizenship in America, 1890-1928, was published by Cornell University Press.
Professor Kahn recently received a National Library of Medicine for his book project, The Uses of Diversity: Managing Race and Representation in Law, Politics, and the Biosciences. The book will examine the biomedical, social, legal, commercial and policy implications of the emergence of “diversity” as a central organizing concept animating an array of programs and research agendas aimed at driving genomic innovation. He previously received two grants from the National Human Genome Research Institute’s (NHGRI) Ethical, Legal and Social Implications (ELSI) Research Program to support projects exploring the ethical and legal ramifications of the increasing use of racial and ethnic categories in the context of gene patenting and drug development. His articles have been published in a wide array of leading journals, ranging from the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics, Iowa Law Review and the Stanford Law & Policy Review to Health Affairs, The American Journal of Bioethics, the American Journal of Public Health, Science and Nature Genetics.
Professor Kahn previously served as the James E. Kelley Chair in Tort Law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
Fields of Expertise
- Constitutional Law
- Drug Law and Policy
- Health Law and Policy
- Law and Technology
- Race and Racism and the Law
- Science and Technology Studies
- Race on the Brain: What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong About the Struggle for Racial Justice (Columbia University Press, 2018).
- Race in a Bottle: The Story of BiDil and Racialized Medicine in a Post-Genomic Age (Columbia University Press, 2013).
- Budgeting Democracy: State Building and Citizenship in America, 1890-1928 (Cornell University Press, 1997).
- “Diversity’s Pandemic Distractions,” 32 Health Matrix: The Journal of Law-Medicine 149 (2022).
- “Precision Medicine and the Resurgence of Race in Genomic Medicine,” in Consuming Genetics: Ethical and Legal Considerations of New Technologies, ed. I.G. Cohen (forthcoming).
- “Rethinking Implicit Bias: The Limits to Science as a Tool of Racial Justice,” in The Oxford Handbook of Race and Law in the United States, eds D. Carbado et al. (forthcoming).
- “Seeing Racism in Real Time,” The Journal of Law and Religion (2021).
- “The Legal Weaponization of Racialized DNA: A New Genetic Politics of Affirmative Action,” Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives (2021).
- “The 911 Covenant: Policing Black Bodies in White Spaces and the Limits of Implicit Bias as a Tool of Racial Justice,” 15 Stanford Journal of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties 1 (2019).
- “Pills for Prejudice: Implicit Bias and Technical Fix for Racism,” 43 American Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics 263 (2017).
- “Science is Complex–So is Race,” 17 The American Journal of Bioethics 56 (2017).
- “Revisiting Racial Patents in an Era of Precision Medicine,” 67 Case Western Reserve Law Review 1153 (2017).
- “Neuroscience, Sincerity, and the Law,” 3 Bergen Journal of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 203 (2015).
- “When Are You From?’ Time, Space and Capital in the Molecular Reinscription of Race,” 66 British Journal of Sociology 68 (2015).
- “Privatizing Biomedical Citizenship: Risk, Duty, and Potential in Circle of Pharmaceutical Life,” 15 Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, & Technology 791 (2014).
- “The Troubling Persistence of Race in Pharmacogenomics,” 40 The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 873 (2012).
- “Synthetic Hype: A Skeptical View of the Promise of Synthetic Biology,” 45 Valparaiso University Law Review 1343 (2011).
- “Keep Hope Alive: Updating the Prudent Investment Standard for Allocating Nuclear Plant Cancellation Costs,” 22 Fordham Environmental Law Review 43 (2010).
- “Race No Longer a Relevant Element in DNA Trial Evidence,” 24 Criminal Justice 39 (2009).
- “Race, Genes and Justice: A Call to Reform the Presentation of Forensic DNA Evidence in Criminal Trials,” 74 Brooklyn Law Review 325 (2009).
- “Race and Ancestry in Biomedical Research: Exploring the Challenges,” 1 Genome Medicine 8 (2009).
- “Beyond Bidil: The Expanding Embrace of Race in Biomedical Research and Product Development,” 3 St. Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy 61 (2009).
- “Flaws in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Rationale for Supporting the Development and Approval of BiDil as a Treatment for Heart Failure in Black Patients,” 36 The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 449 (2008).
- “Race in a Bottle,” 297 Scientific American 40 (2007-2008).
- “The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing,” 318 Science (2007).
- “Race-ing Patents/Patenting Race: An Emerging Political Geography of Intellectual Property in Biotechnology,” 92 Iowa Law Review 353 (2007).
- “The Politics of Patenting Race,” 20 Genewatch 3 (2007).
- “Harmonizing Race: Competing Regulatory Paradigms of Racial Categorization in International Drug Development,” 5 Santa Clara Journal of International Law 34 (2006).
- “Patenting Race,” 24 Nature Biotechnology 1349 (2006).
- “Being Specific about Race-Specific Medicine,” 25 Health Affairs 375 (2006) (co-author).
- “Exploiting Race in Drug Development: BiDil’s Interim Model of Pharmacogenomics,” 38 Social Studies of Science 737 (2006).
- “Race, Pharmacogenomics, and Marketing: Putting BiDil in Context,” 6 American Journal of Bioethics W1 (2006).
- “Genes, Race, and Population: Avoiding a Collision of Categories,” 96 American Journal of Public Health 1965 (2006).
- “Controlling Identity: Plessy, Privacy, and Racial Defamation,” 54 DePaul Law Review 755 (2005).
- “From Disparity to Difference: How Race-Specific Medicines May Undermine Policies to Address Inequalities in Health Care,” 15 Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 105 (2005).
- “BiDil: Race Medicine or Race Marketing?,” Health Affairs (2005) (co-author).
- “How a Drug Becomes ‘Ethnic’: Law, Commerce, and the Production of Racial Categories in Medicine,” 4 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics 1 (2004).
- “Privacy as a Legal Principle of Identity Maintenance,” 33 Seton Hall Law Review 371 (2003).
- “What’s the Use? Law and Authority in Patenting Human Genetic Material,” 14 Stanford Law & Policy Review 417 (2003).
- “Getting the Numbers Right: Statistical Mischief and Racial Profiling in Heart Failure Research,” 46 Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 473 (2003).
- “Product Liability and the Politics of Corporate Presence: Identity and Accountability in Macpherson V. Buick,” 35 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review 3 (2001).
- “What’s in a Name? Law’s Identity Under the Tort of Appropriation,” 74 Temple Law Review 263 (2001).
- “Biotechnology and the Legal Constitution of the Self: Managing Identity in Science, the Market, and Society,” 51 Hastings Law Journal 909 (2000).
- “Bringing Dignity Back to Light: Publicity Rights and the Eclipse of the Tort of Appropriation of Identity,” 17 Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal 213 (1999).
- “Enslaving the Image: The Origins of the Tort of Appropriation of Identity Reconsidered,” 2 Legal Theory 301 (1996).
- “Re-Presenting Government and Representing the People: Budget Publicity and Citizenship in New York City, 1908-1911,” 19 Journal of Urban History 84 (1993).
- “Precision Medicine and the Resurgence of Race in Genomic Medicine,” in Consuming Genetics: Ethical and Legal Considerations of New Technologies , ed. I. Glenn Cohen (forthcoming).
- “Rethinking Implicit Bias: The Limits to Science as a Tool of Racial Justice,” in The Oxford Handbook of Race and Law in the United States , eds D. Carbado et al (forthcoming).
- “Race and the FDA,” in FDA in the 21st Century: The Challenges of Regulating Drugs and New Technologies, ed. H.F. Lynch et al (Columbia University Press, 2015).
- “Inventing Race as a Genetic Commodity in Biotechnology Patents,” in Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective, ed. M. Biagioli et al (University of Chicago Press, 2011).
- “Surrogate Markers and Surrogate Marketing in Biomedicine: The Regulatory Etiology and Commercial Progression of “Ethnic” Drug,” in Biomedicalization: Technoscience, Health, and Illness in the U.S., ed. A. Clarke et al (Duke University Press, 2010).
- “Patenting Race in a Genomic Age” in Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age, ed. B. Koenig et al (Rutgers University Press, 2008).
- “Abe Fortas” in The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties, ed. P. Finkelman (Routledge, 2006).
- “Abe Fortas” in The Supreme Court Justices: A Biographical Dictionary, ed. M. Urofsky (Garland Publishing, 1994).
- “Q&A: Jonathan Kahn on New Frontiers in Racial Profiling,” Undark (December 14, 2022).
- “A Black Man was Killed in Georgia, Should the Case be Tried as a Hate Crime?,” Northeastern News (May 21, 2020).
- “Can a Pill Redress Social and Racial Injustice?,” Northeastern News (December 3, 2019).
- “Why Race-Based Health Disparities Have Little to do With Genetics,” The Petrie-Flom Center's Bill of Health Blog (July 11, 2019).
- “Starbucks Incident: It Wasn't Implicit Bias. It Was Racism,” Minneapolis Star Tribune (April 23, 2018).
- “Viewing Racism as a Biology Problem Totally Ignores the Real Forces Driving It,” USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism (April 17, 2018).
- “How Not To Talk About Race and Genetics,” BuzzFeed (March 30, 2018).
- “The Constitutional Right to Dignity: From Gay Marriage to #BlackLivesMatter,” The Conversation (July 21, 2015).
Jonathan D. Kahn
Professor of Law and Biology