This fall, Georgia State Law welcomed new health law professors Dr. Anjali Deshmukh and Allison Whelan. Deshmukh, who is teaching Health Law: Quality and Access, and Whelan, who is teaching Food and Drug Law, both have a strong interest in the role of law on improving the health of communities. Whelan brings extensive experience in food and drug law practice and an interest in reproductive justice and bioethics. Deshmukh draws on her experience as a practicing pediatrician and Hatch-Waxman litigator to focus on the intersection of patient care, patent litigation, and pharmaceutical pricing. Erin Fuse Brown, director of the Center for Law, Health & Society and co-chair of the faculty recruitment committee said, “The addition of these new faculty members truly elevates our health law program.”
Welcome, Allison Whelan
Like many people who have a parent in health care, Allison “Ally” Whelan, a new assistant professor of law at Georgia State Law, grew up thinking she wanted to practice medicine. Amid the undergraduate pre-med science courses, Whelan, whose mother works as a pediatric a nurse practitioner, took an introductory course on medical ethics that changed her direction and the trajectory of her career.
“The professor was a former practicing attorney,” said Whelan. “She really made me think about policies and ethics in health care. This is when I realized where my passions truly lay, and I began thinking about how I might be able to impact health and promote equity by using the law to advocate for change.”
Whelan pursued a law degree and a masters in bioethics through a dual degree program at the University of Minnesota. There, she began working closely with Professor Michele Goodwin, a relationship that continues to this day, which provided an opportunity to explore important and urgent issues in reproductive health, law and ethics. “More importantly, I learned the importance of a mentor relationship and how one faculty member can open new doors for students and shape their future careers,” reflected Whelan.
With an eye toward teaching, Whelan first wanted to practice law. In her experience, the best professors often have a background in practice. After graduation, Whelan was selected as the inaugural senior fellow at the Center for Biotechnology & Global Health Policy at U.C. Irvine School of Law, where she helped to launch a clinic promoting reproductive health and rights of women and girls. She then clerked for the Honorable William J. Kayatta, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and the Honorable Guido Calabresi of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. After her clerkships, she joined the food, drug and device practice group of a large law firm in Washington, D.C, developing expertise in the regulation of pharmaceuticals.
“Then COVID hit, magnifying failings in the public health system,” said Whelan. She felt the time was right to return to academia and to explore new ways to use law to promote justice and eliminate disparities. She joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School as a Sharswood Fellow, teaching FDA law and policy during public health emergencies.
Whelan strives to produce research that can be distilled for a lay audience and that has the potential to inform policy change, such as a recent article she co-wrote for Ms. on period poverty and barriers to access to menstrual products in prisons and schools.
However, while legal scholarship sometimes seems abstract and theoretical, they also have importance beyond legal academia. “Professor Goodwin refers to ideas that may seem difficult or impossible under current circumstances as ‘jurisprudence in exile,’” Whelan said. “This means there is value in realizing that our current reality may not always be, nor should be our future reality. So, it is important to think creatively and to publish these thoughts and start important discussions now. The work will then be there to rely on when the time is ripe for change.”
“We are very happy Ally decided to come to Georgia State Law because she brings perspectives that are already developed from the world of policy as well as the world of legal practice,” said Paul Lombardo, Regents’ Professor and Bobby Lee Cook Professor of Law. “The insights she has to offer from both these worlds will be a treasure for our students. “
Whelan is excited for both the research and teaching aspects of her new faculty position at Georgia State Law. Whelan, who attended public schools from kindergarten through graduate and law school, respects and values the affordability and accessibility that Georgia State offers to its diverse student body. She is ready to help guide this next generation of law students to the bar exam, legal practice, and beyond. In her words, Whelan “hopes to be for Georgia State’s students what my mentors were for me—life-changing.”
Welcome, Anjali Deshmukh
Dr. Anjali Deshmukh, a first-generation Indian American, realized early on that she was interested in the forces that shaped the practice of medicine. A high school history teacher inspired her love of learning, and she found she enjoyed examining the ways that law has impacted health care delivery in the past and currently. Deshmukh’s parents are biochemists who worked in drug development and drug safety. “I have always been fascinated by how law and science are intertwined, which can be positive or negative, such as the ability of new pharmaceutical drugs to save lives or cause serious harm,” said Deshmukh, who joins Georgia State Law this year as an assistant professor of law.
She recalls having a front-row seat to debates on stem cell research while interning for U.S. House of Representatives Congresswoman Diana DeGette as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College. “I was watching people who deeply cared about the issue on both sides talking past each other, and at times, missing the impact of policy positions on the practical application for a research laboratory,” said Deshmukh. “I wanted to be able to advocate for policy changes that are informed by science.”
Deshmukh earned her medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and her law degree from Stanford Law School. She completed her pediatric residency at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital with a concentration on advocacy. Deshmukh has practiced both pediatric medicine and pharmaceutical patent law in the Bay Area.
Most recently she was a clinical research fellow with the Program on Regulation Therapeutics and Law (PORTAL), an interprofessional collaboration between at Brigham Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School that evaluates emerging issues on the regulation, use and reimbursement of prescription drugs and medical devices. While there, she also provided care for children at Boston Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center. “I am constantly humbled to be trusted to advise parents on their children’s wellbeing,” said Deshmukh, who plans to continue to practice medicine.
Now at Georgia State Law, Deshmukh is sharing her expertise by joining the advisory board meetings of the Health Law Partnership (HeLP). She was involved in developing a medical-legal partnership in the past that was also focused on addressing the socioeconomic factors that exacerbate illnesses for low-income children.
Deshmukh also brings her background practicing both law and medicine to the classroom. She weaves her experiences into lectures and assignments. Her real-world illustrations help students to connect the complex and constantly evolving health law issues discussed in class to the implications for patients and providers.
Her research is focused on drug pricing, patents and policy. “I am exploring ways to reimagine how pharmaceuticals are approved and regulated in the United States, especially for pediatric patients,” said Deshmukh. “I am excited to collaborate with expert scholars right down the hall who are researching important issues that impact health,” Deshmukh said.
“Anjali brings such a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience. I can’t wait to read the articles that she is currently working on and am very curious to see where her research will lead her next,” said Yaniv Heled, professor of law and co-chair of the faculty recruitment committee along with Erin Fuse Brown.