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About Us


Innovation in medicine offers tremendous hope. But it requires similar innovation in governance—in law, policy, and ethics—for society to fully realize the fruits and avoid the pitfalls. For example, how can we incorporate tomorrow's AI technology into healthcare while avoiding inadvertent bias and discrimination? How can we apply insights from neuroscience to improve our criminal justice system for cases where mental illness is a factor? And as numerous as tomorrow's challenges are, there are as many gaps and shortfalls in what we already have: Many Canadians die waiting for organ transplants each year, yet most people are not registered donors. Pathogens will inevitably adapt to our current antibiotics and we aren't developing new ones fast enough. The list is long and ever evolving...


Complex challenges like these have in common that they can't be solved by physicians, scientists, engineers, or policy makers alone. In response, the University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics (CHLPE) aims to bridge gaps, fostering the collaboration of different kinds of researchers and practitioners. We also facilitate interdisciplinary training. And we move new ideas and evidence from research into the hands of policy makers, practitioners, and the public—through our events, blogs, sessions with government, and testimony in Parliament and the Senate. With 30 core faculty drawn from a dozen disciplines, we are the largest centre of our kind in Canada and one of the largest in the world.

Our Team

See our Annual Report >

CHLPE Annual Report cover
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Vanessa Gruben


Vanessa Gruben is a professor in the Common Law Section of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. A recognized expert in Canadian health law and policy, her scholarship probes the law and ethics of assisted reproduction, harm reduction, organ donation and transplantation, and health care professional self-regulation. She is the co-editor of the 5th edition of Canada’s leading health law text, Canadian Health Law and Policy (LexisNexis, 2017), and co-author of Families and the Law in Canada: Cases and Commentary (Captus, 2019). She has been a member of the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board and the Health Services Appeal and Review Board. She currently serves as board member of the Canadian Health Coalition and of AMS Healthcare. She has appeared on behalf of Amnesty International Canada before the Supreme Court of Canada in Charkaoui v. Canada, [2007] 1 S.C.R. 350; Charkaoui v. Canada, [2008] 2 S.C.R. 326; Khadr v. Canada, [2010] SCC 3; and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Professor Gruben is a graduate of the University of Ottawa’s Common Law program. She clerked for Chief Justice Richard of the Federal Court of Appeal and then Justice Bastarache of the Supreme Court of Canada. She was called to the bar in Ontario in 2003, after which she practiced as an associate in the litigation group of a national law firm. She joined the Faculty of Law after graduating as a James Kent Scholar from Columbia University’s Master of Laws program.

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Sophie Nunnelley

Associate Director

Sophie Nunnelley's scholarship takes up issues of health law and human rights, with a particular focus on mental health law, legal capacity and decision-making, and the regulation of health-related artificial intelligence. She has held numerous awards, including a Fulbright Scholarship, Vanier Canada Scholarship, CIHR Fellowship in Health Law, Ethics and Policy, Lupina Fellowship in Comparative Health & Society, and AMS Fellowship in Compassion and Artificial Intelligence. She also practiced law, including as a constitutional and human rights lawyer with the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario, and as counsel on a major national public inquiry (the Gomery Inquiry). She was also clerk to the Hon. Mr. Justice Charles Gonthier of the Supreme Court of Canada. Sophie holds laws degrees from Yale University (LLM) and the University of Toronto (SJD).

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Giles Holland

Operations / Media / Web

Giles Holland is responsible for operations at CHLPE, including web development, graphic design, communications, finance, events, videography, reporting, and more. Giles also contributes to grant writing and funding development. Giles has a background in physical sciences and neuroscience and in addition to his work at CHLPE he is the developer of PsychBench vision science experiment software. Many winters ago, Giles was a highschool science teacher.