Biolaw: Cracking the Code

16 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2008 Last revised: 6 Apr 2016

James Ming Chen

Michigan State University - College of Law


The neologism "biolaw" describes all areas of law informed by the life sciences. Health law, bioethics, environmental law, natural resources law, agricultural law, food and drug law, biotechnology, law and neuroscience, law and behavioral psychology, and evolutionary analysis of law all share a common scientific core. Lawyers and legal scholars too often address these topics in isolation. This piecemeal approach undermines the scientific cohesion that connects these areas of legal practice and theory. The common core, of course, is biology - all of the life sciences, unified in pursuit of subjects considered worthy of legal attention.

This essay defines biolaw as the field of law and the life sciences in its entirety. Part I of this essay will provide a brief guide to the various branches of biolaw. Part II offers some thoughts on the intellectual significance of treating biolaw as a scientifically coherent enterprise. In other words, I will first define biolaw. Then I will explain why it matters.

Keywords: biolaw, health sciences, health law, bioethics, environmental law, natural resources, agriculture law, food and drug law, biotechnology, neuroscience, behavioral psychology

JEL Classification: K32

Suggested Citation

Chen, James Ming, Biolaw: Cracking the Code. Kansas Law Review, Vol. 56, No. 4, 2008; University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2008-12. Available at SSRN:

James Ming Chen (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States

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