Ms. Suter, a leading scholar of health policy and longtime GW Law faculty member, will also serve as founding director of the law school’s new Health Law Initiative.
By Tatyana Hopkins
Sonia M. Suter, the founding director of GW Law’s Health Law Initiative, has officially been installed as the inaugural Kahan Family Research Professor of Law.
Ms. Suter is a leading scholar of health policy, bioethics and legal issues in medicine and genetics. Widely published in peer-reviewed law and science journals, her scholarship focuses on issues at the intersection of law and medicine, particularly reproductive rights, emerging reproductive technologies and ethical and legal issues in genetics.
Prior to earning her law degree, she earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. candidacy in human genetics. She joined the GW Law faculty in 1999 after holding a Greenwall Fellowship in Bioethics and Health Policy at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities.
During the virtual installation ceremony, which took place Thursday, Ms. Suter said she was excited to advance GW Law’s vision of positioning itself as a leader in health justice, food and drug issues and other matters at the intersection of law, medicine, public health and science.
“Having Jon Kahan’s name in my title is a great honor,” she said. “I am going to admit that I really did want the research professorship, not just for me but because of what it means for the law school. I wanted this title because it represents the formal growth of health law at GW, something that Jon and I have long hoped for and long talked about.”
The Kahan Family Professorship was made possible with a gift from Jonathan S. Kahan, B.A. ’70, J.D. ’73, a trailblazing medical device lawyer.
Mr. Kahan has more than 40 years of legal experience and is an industry leader in obtaining FDA market clearance of novel medical devices for medical technology and diagnosis companies. A partner at Hogan Lovells, he co-directs the firm’s medical device development practice group.
He is also the recipient of the 2020 Food and Drug Law Institute’s Distinguished Service and Leadership Award, a top honor that recognizes individuals who exemplify leadership in the field.
In his welcoming remarks, GW Provost M. Brian Blake thanked Mr. Kahan for his generosity and dedication to GW.
“One of the finest minds in legal scholarship, Jonathan is the embodiment of GW Law’s mission,” Dr. Blake said. “Along with establishing this professorship, he remains part of the school as an adjunct professor [in medical devices]. Thank you.”
From left: GW Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew, Provost M. Brian Blake, Jonathan S. Kahan and Sonia M. Suter attended the virtual installation ceremony.
In addition to authoring the leading textbook on medical device law, he also serves as chair emeritus and member of the GW Law Dean’s Advisory Council as well as on the GW Leadership Advisory Council.
Earlier this year, Mr. Kahan also funded the creation of GW Law’s Health Law Initiative, which seeks to expand course offerings and programming that will establish national visibility in the area of health law at the law school.
Ms. Suter will serve as the founding director of the initiative, which will support events and scholarship activities to help students understand the diverse career paths in health law. It will also establish a fellowship for select students committed to health law as well as support post-pandemic student travel to health law conferences.
“I met Sonia when we were on the dean search committee together,” Mr. Kahan said. “She is the perfect person for this professorship and for this initiative. She has a background in science… but most importantly, she's just an amazing person and a joy to work with, and I look forward to carrying this initiative forward.”
GW Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew, also a renowned leader in public health and civil rights law, congratulated Ms. Suter.
“One of the things that has been a dream come true for a new dean is having someone like Professor Sonia Suter on my faculty,” she said. “We are quite lucky. In particular I feel quite lucky to be your colleague and to have you as a partner in crime as we put GW’s health law program on the map.”