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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Tania Simoncelli – A Scientist Causing Legal Change

How often does a scientist change the law? Not too often, but there are some examples. One is described in the December 26, 2013 issue of Nature.  There, the magazine lauded Tania Simoncelli as a “person who mattered” due to her role as one of the architects behind the Myriad Genetics litigation over gene patents. Ms. Simoncelli presently works as the Assistant Director for Forensic Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. According to her bio at the White House:

“From 2003-2010, Simoncelli worked as the Science Advisor to the American Civil Liberties Union, where she guided the organization’s responses to cutting-edge developments in science and technology that pose challenges for civil liberties. In this capacity, she spearheaded the development of ACLU’s successful Supreme Court challenge to the patenting of human genes and advised ACLU leadership and staff on a number of other science policy issues. In 2013, Simoncelli was named by the journal Nature as one of “ten people who mattered this year” for her work with the ACLU in overturning gene patents.

Simoncelli is co-author with Sheldon Krimsky of Genetic Justice: DNA Data Banks, Criminal Investigations, and Civil Liberties (Columbia University Press: 2010). She has published articles in a range of scientific, legal and policy journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (JLME) and Genewatch Magazine.

Simoncelli holds a BA in Biology & Society from Cornell University and an MS in Energy and Resources from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked as a researcher, analyst, and consultant for a range of nonprofit environmental and social justice organizations, including the Environmental Defense Fund and the Center for Genetics and Society, and served for five years as a board member of the Council for Responsible Genetics.”

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