Muireann Quigley


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PhD projects

Biolaw, property in the body and biomaterials, the use if the behavioural sciences in law and policy, (bio)technologies and law.


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Research interests

Professor Quigley’s recent research has focused on three main areas: (1) bodies and biomaterials, (2) bodies and (bio)technologies, and (3) the use of the behavioural sciences in law and policy. All three areas are underpinned by an interest in the foundations of and boundaries in law. Amongst others, her work has been funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Leverhulme Trust.

Her recent monograph Self-ownership, Property Rights, & the Human Body: A Legal and Philosophical Analysis was published in hardback in 2018 and paperback in 2020 by Cambridge University Press. In it she examines how the law ought to deal with novel challenges regarding the use and control of human biomaterials, arguing that innovation within the law is needed if we are to adequately deal with and regulate the uses of these. She concludes that the law must confront and move boundaries which it has constructed; in particular, those which delineate property from non-property in relation to biomaterials.

The book was one of the 2018 Choice Outstanding Academic Title winners.

Work on the monograph led to a development of Prof Quigley’s longstanding interest in bodies and (bio)technologies. She is interested in the challenges arising as (bio)technological objects move out of and into the body. Those objects moving in (e.g. relevant medical devices) present challenges to the philosophical foundations of law as it currently stands (e.g. challenging binary classifications such as subject-object upon which the law is built).

This interest underpins her current research which focused on the legal and ethical challenges regarding persons with attached and implanted medical devices. She is PI on a large Wellcome Trust-funded project: Everyday Cyborgs 2.0: Law’s Boundary-work and Alternative Legal Futures. This project explores the legal and philosophical challenges which arise when attached and implanted medical devices, especially smart devices, are joined with persons.  

Along with the project researchers, she is tackling questions such as: (1) should internal medical devices which keep the person alive be viewed as part of the person or mere objects (or something else)?; (2) is damage to neuro-prostheses personal injury or damage to property?; (3) who ought to control/own the software in implanted medical devices?; and (4) how should the law deal with risks around unauthorised third party access and hacking?

Professor Quigley’s third main area of research centres on the use of the behavioural sciences in law and policy. Behavioural-inspired public policy is often framed by proponents and policy-makers as desirable strategies for achieving a range of aims. It is also frequently presented (at least by policy-makers and Government) as being a pioneering alternative to the law and traditional regulatory structures. Her work examines the problematic empirical, philosophical, and political foundations of the translation and application of the behavioural sciences into law and policy.


Professor Quigley joined Birmingham Law School in January 2018 as Professor of Law, Medicine, and Technology. From August 2015 she held the Chair in Law, Innovation, and Society the University of Newcastle. Prior to that was Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Ethics and Law at the Centre for Ethics in Medicine at the University of Bristol, and has worked at the University of Manchester's Centre for Social Ethics and Policy in the School of Law where she held positions as Lecturer in Bioethics and Research Fellow in Bioethics and Law. In a previous life she was a medical doctor, working in General Medicine and A&E, and also as a Screening Physician for a phase I clinical trials company.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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