LLAW6250 & JDOC6250

General Course Information

1.1 Course details

Course code: LLAW6250 / JDOC6250
Course name: The Regulation of Biomedical Research
Programme offered under: LLM Programme / JD Programme
Semester: Second
Designated research course: Not applicable
Specialization: Not applicable
Prerequisites / Co-requisites: No
Credit point value: 9 credits / 6 credits

1.2 Course description

The course is aimed at students seeking an understanding of the framework of legal and ethical regulation (both locally and internationally) of biomedical research in all its common aspects, and the legal and regulatory requirements that must be met before new drugs, vaccines, biologics or medical devices may become accessible to the public.

Topics that will be covered in the  course include international standards for clinical trials (involving pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical product); direct human experimental and biomedical research involving human subjects; ‘non-invasive’ epidemiological and other studies involving only the use of data; human tissue banking and biobanking; cohort studies; genomic research; the research use of ‘legacy’ diagnostic tissue or data collections; the sharing of personal, medical and genomic information; public ‘diseases registries’ and the use of medical information for public health research purposes; the legal and ethical regulation of multi-centre and multi-jurisdictional collaborative biomedical research; EMR (electronic medical records) databases; data-mining and the implications of migration to large-scale national health records systems;  human embryonic stem cell and induced pluripotent stem cell research; genome editing and gene therapy; medical device trials (including devices based on artificial intelligence or machine learning); and ethical and regulatory standards for governance of biomedical research at the institutional level (through IRBs, ECs, HRECs).

Fundamental concepts such as the informed consent of subjects (at common law and under international clinical trial good practices) with particular emphasis on the consent given by or on behalf of minors, incompetent subjects and vulnerable populations, social value of the research, right to science, return of benefits to research subjects or affected populations, risk-benefit assessment, clinical trial designs and clinical equipoise will be considered, as along with the impact and requirements of national laws and regulations international guidelines.

The course seeks to help students understand and keep abreast of developments (and to enable them to advise the medical and biomedical research sectors) in the rapidly developing field of biomedical research, and to equip them with the basic language and vocabulary necessary to appreciate the legal and ethical implications. To this end, students will be introduced to basic technical (i.e. medical or scientific) information that relates to the research proposals or endeavours (e.g. human genome editing) considered in this course.

1.3 Course teachers

Name E-mail address Office Consultation
Course convenor Calvin Ho cwlho@hku.hk CCT 803 By email

Learning Outcomes

2.1 Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) for this course

CLO 1 Describe and explain the differences between the relationships of physician-patient, and that of researcher-subject, with special attention to the conflict of interests which may arise where the physician also acts as researcher, and where the patient is also the subject, or the source of the tissue or data. Propose and describe measures for the management and resolution of such conflicts in specific settings, such as that of the registered physician who is at once a practicing clinician as well as a biomedical researcher in a research and teaching hospital.

CLO 2 Critically examine the ethical considerations and legal/regulatory requirements (such as the taking of consent from research subjects who are considered to be vulnerable) in different types of biomedical or health-related research, including tissue or biobanking, genomics and genome editing, clinical trials (both pharmaceutical products and vaccines, or biologics more broadly), pluripotent cells and medical device trials (inclusive of devices based on artificial intelligence or machine learning).

CLO 3 Critically and comparatively examine the regulatory approval processes (including emergency use authorisation) for pharmaceutical products, vaccines and other biologics, and medical devices (inclusive of devices based on artificial intelligence or machine learning).

CLO 4 Critically examine and analyse current international developments in the legal and ethical regimes for the sharing of medical and genetic information (in conventional and in emergent Big Data health research), as well as of tissue and genetic samples.

CLO 5 Consider differences in legal and regulatory requirements, as well as ethical good practices, in Hong Kong relative to leading scientific jurisdictions, with a view to understand trends in regulation and governance of biomedical research.

2.2 LLM and JD Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs)

Please refer to the following link:

LLM – https://course.law.hku.hk/llm-plo/

JD – https://course.law.hku.hk/jd-plo/

2.3 Programme Learning Outcomes to be achieved in this course



3.1 Assessment Summary

Assessment task Due date Weighting Feedback method* Course learning outcomes
Class participation TBA 30% 1 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Take home exam TBA 70% 1 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
*Feedback method (to be determined by course teacher)
1 A general course report to be disseminated through Moodle
2 Individual feedback to be disseminated by email / through Moodle
3 Individual review meeting upon appointment
4 Group review meeting
5 In-class verbal feedback

3.2 Assessment Detail

To be advised by course convenor(s).

3.3 Grading Criteria

Please refer to the following link: https://www.law.hku.hk/_files/law_programme_grade_descriptors.pdf

Learning Activities

4.1 Learning Activity Plan

Seminar: 3 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks
Private study time: 9.5 hours / week for 12 teaching weeks

Remarks: the normative student study load per credit unit is 25 ± 5 hours (ie. 150 ± 30 hours for a 6-credit course), which includes all learning activities and experiences within and outside of classroom, and any assessment task and examinations and associated preparations.

4.2 Details of Learning Activities

To be advised by course convenor(s).

Learning Resources

5.1 Resources

Reading materials: Reading materials are posted on Moodle
Core reading list: TBA
Recommended reading list: TBA

5.2 Links

Please refer to the following link: http://www.law.hku.hk/course/learning-resources/