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Megan Wright

Professor Megan Wright

Assistant Professor of Law, Medicine, and Sociology
Affiliate Faculty, Rock Ethics Institute, College of the Liberal Arts
Affiliate Faculty, Bioethics Program, College of the Liberal Arts

SSRN Profile
Curriculum Vitae

(814) 865-8957

Ph.D., University of Arizona
J.D., Yale Law School
M.A., University of Arizona
B.S., Brigham Young University

Megan S. Wright is Assistant Professor of Law and Medicine—Penn State Law’s first joint appointment with the College of Medicine—as well as an affiliate faculty member with the Department of Sociology and the Rock Ethics Institute in the College of the Liberal Arts. She teaches Introduction to Health Law, Bioethics and Law, and Public Health Law. Her primary research is the intersection of medical decision making, disability, elder law, bioethics, and private law, and she has published extensively in law reviews and peer-reviewed journals, including Arizona Law Review, Florida State University Law Review, Maryland Law Review, North Carolina Law Review, Stanford Technology Law Review, Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics, Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, and JAMA Internal Medicine, among others. Her research on dementia and supported decision making has been recognized by the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics (ASLME) as one of the “most cutting-edge issues presented at the 2019 Health Law Professors Conference,” and this research was also selected for the 2018 Center for Health Law Studies at Saint Louis University School of Law and ASLME Health Law Scholars Workshop.

Professor Wright has a Ph.D. in Sociology, and she uses her methodological skills to conduct empirical legal studies in collaboration with other scholars. One area of her empirical research is on prosecutor discretion and decision making, and with her research collaborators, she conducted original experimental, quantitative, and qualitative research that has been published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Southern California Law Review, and UC Davis Law Review. She is also the 2013 Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Poster Award winner for her research on “Mock Jurors’ Assessment of Blind Experts in Criminal Trials.” Another area of her empirical research is funded by the National Institutes of Health to study the perspectives and experiences of people who decide to participate in a clinical trial of deep brain stimulation for severe brain injury (Co-Investigator, “Cognitive Restoration:  Neuroethics and Disability Rights,” BRAIN Initiative: Research on the Ethical Implications of Advancements in Neurotechnology and Brain Science, National Institutes of Health: R01[1RF1MH1238-01], 9/17/19-8/31/23). Professor Wright also collaborates with colleagues at Penn State College of Medicine. Her research with Public Health Sciences faculty examines the effects of laws governing pregnant women with opioid use disorder on health outcomes, and her research with Humanities faculty examines supported and surrogate healthcare decision making.

She is the co-organizer of the Virtual Health Law Workshop, which meets monthly to discuss health law and bioethics works-in-progress with law professors across the country. She is also the Chair-Elect of the AALS Affinity Group for Law Professors with Disabilities and their Allies.

Professor Wright joined Penn State from Weill Cornell Medical College, where she was a Postdoctoral Associate of Medical Ethics. Concurrently, she served as a Research Fellow and Senior Adviser to the Consortium for the Advanced Study of Brain Injury Project at the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy at Yale Law School. Professor Wright has also served as a Law and Social Science Research Fellow at the James E. Rogers College of Law and as a qualitative analyst at the Southwest Institute for Research on Women, both at the University of Arizona. She earned a JD from Yale Law School, a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Arizona, and a BS in Sociology from Brigham Young University.

Law Review Publications

Healthcare Decision Making

Legal Issues in Dementia, in THE BEHAVIORAL NEUROLOGY OF DEMENTIA (BRUCE MILLER & BRAD BOUVE eds. forthcoming), with Jalayne Arias and Ana Tyler.

Equality of Autonomy? Physician Aid in Dying and Supported Decision Making, 63 ARIZ. L. REV. 157 (2021).

Dementia, Cognitive Transformation, and Supported Decision Making, 20 AM. J. BIOETHICS 88 (2020).

Dementia, Autonomy, and Supported Healthcare Decision Making, 79 MD. L. REV. 257 (2020).

  • Selected for Health Law Scholars Workshop, American Society for Law, Medicine, & Ethics

Dementia, Healthcare Decision Making, and Disability Law, 47 J.L. MED. & ETHICS 25 (2019).

  • Selected for Health Law Professors Conference Symposium Issue (8/150 selected)

End of Life and Autonomy: The Case for Relational Nudges in End-of-Life Decision-Making Law and Policy, 77 MD. L. REV. 1062 (2018).

Change without Change? Assessing Medicare Reimbursement for Advance Care Planning, 48 HASTINGS CTR. REP. 8 (2018).

Guardianship and End-of-Life Decision Making, 175 JAMA INTERNAL MED. 1687 (2015), with Andrew B. Cohen, Leo Cooney, Jr., and Terri Fried (second author) (peer-reviewed).

Human Subjects Research


Legal Changes to Facilitate Inclusion of Participants with Impaired Cognition in Research, in RESEARCH INVOLVING PARTICIPANTS WITH COGNITIVE DISABILITY AND DIFFERENCE: ETHICS, AUTONOMY, INCLUSION, AND INNOVATION (eds. Ariel Cascio and Eric Racine 2019).

Comment, A Case for Randomized, Double-Blinded, Sham-Controlled Class III Medical Device Trials, 34 YALE L. & POL’Y REV. 199 (2016).

Heterogeneity in IRB Policies with Regard to Disclosures about Payment for Participation in Recruitment Materials, 42 J.L. MED. & ETHICS 375 (2014), with Christopher T. Robertson (peer- reviewed).

Empirical Legal Studies

Inside the Black Box of Prosecutor Discretion, __ U.C. Davis L. Rev. __ (forthcoming), with Shima Baradaran Baughman and Christopher Robertson.

Prosecutors and Mass Incarceration, __ S. Cal. L. Rev. __ (forthcoming), with Shima Baradaran Baughman (second author).

Race and Class: A Randomized Experiment with Prosecutors16 j. empirical legal stud. 807 (2019), with Christopher T. Robertson and Shima Baradaran Baughman (third author) (peer-reviewed).

Mock Juror and Jury Assessment of Blind Expert Witnesses, in BLINDING AS A SOLUTION TO BIAS: STRENGTHENING BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE, FORENSIC SCIENCE, AND LAW (eds. Christopher T. Robertson and Aaron S. Kesselheim 2016), with Christopher T. Robertson and David V. Yokum.

  • Recipient of 2013 Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Poster Award

Installment Housing Contracts: Presumptively Unconscionable, 18 BERKELEY J. AFR.-AM. L. & POL’Y 97 (2016).

Symposium, Perceptions of Efficacy, Morality, and Politics of Potential Cadaveric Organ Transplantation Reforms: A Randomized Population-based Experiment, 77 LAW & CONTEMP. PROBS. 101 (2014), with Christopher T. Robertson and David V. Yokum (third author).

Severe Brain Injury and Law: Consortium for the Advanced Study of Brain Injury

In Pursuit of Agency ex Machina:  Expanding the Map in Severe Brain Injury, __ AJOB Neuroscience __ (forthcoming), with Joseph J. Fins, Joseph T. Giacino, Jaimie Henderson, and Nicholas D. Schiff.

The Neglect of Persons with Severe Brain Injury in the United States: An International Human Rights Analysis, HEALTH & HUMAN RIGHTS J. (forthcoming) with Tamar Ezer and Joseph J. Fins (second author) (peer-reviewed).

Olmstead Enforcements for Moderate to Severe Brain Injury: The Pursuit of Civil Rights through an Application of Law, Neuroscience, and Ethics, 95 TULANE L. REV. __ (forthcoming), with Zachary E. Shapiro, D. Chaarushena, Allison Rabkin Golden, Jaclyn Wilner, Caroline Lawrence, Allison Durkin, Zoe M. Adams, Wenqing Zhao, Keturah James, Adam Pan, and Joseph J. Fins (eleventh author).

Regulating Post-Trial Access to In-Dwelling Class III Neural Devices, in INNOVATION AND PROTECTION: THE FUTURE OF MEDICAL DEVICE REGULATION (forthcoming), with Joseph J. Fins.

Disorders of Consciousness and Disability Law, 95 MAYO CLINIC PROCEEDINGS P1732 (2020), with Joseph J. Fins and Samuel Bagenstos (second author) (peer-reviewed).

The Neglect of Persons with Severe Brain Injury in the United States:  An International Human Rights Analysis, 22 Health & Human Rights J. 265 (2020) with Tamar Ezer and Joseph J. Fins (second author) (peer-reviewed).

Nothing Generic About It: Promoting Therapeutic Access by Overcoming Regulatory and Legal Barriers to a Robust Generic Medical Device Market, 98 N.C. L. REV. 595 (2020), with Adam Pan, Keturah James, Zachary E. Shapiro, and Joseph J. Fins (fourth author).

Severe Brain Injury, Disability, and the Law: Achieving Justice for a Marginalized Population, 45 FLA. ST. U. L. REV. 313 (2018), with Nina Varsava, Joel Ramirez, Kyle Edwards, Nathan Guevremont, Tamar Ezer, and Joseph J. Fins.

When Biomarkers Are Not Enough: FDA Evaluation of Effectiveness of Neuropsychiatric Devices for Disorders of Consciousness, 21 STANFORD TECH. L. REV. 276 (2018), with Keturah James, Adam Pan, and Joseph J. Fins.

Disorders of Consciousness, Agency, and Healthcare Decision-Making: Lessons from a Developmental Model, 9 AJOB NEUROSCIENCE 55 (2018), with Claudia Kraft, Michael R. Ulrich, and Joseph J. Fins (peer-reviewed).

Rights Language and Disorders of Consciousness: A Call for Advocacy, 32 BRAIN INJURY 670 (2018), with Joseph J. Fins (second author) (peer-reviewed).

Guardianship and Clinical Research Participation: The Case of Wards with Disorders of Consciousness, 27 KENNEDY INST. ETHICS J. 43 (2017), with Michael R. Ulrich and Joseph J. Fins (peer-reviewed).

Rehabilitation, Education, and the Integration of Individuals with Severe Brain Injury into Civil Society: Towards an Expanded Rights Agenda in Response to New Insights from Translational Neuroethics and Neuroscience, 16 YALE J. HEALTH POL’Y L. & ETHICS 233 (2016), with Joseph J. Fins (peer-reviewed).

Whither the “Improvement Standard”? Coverage for Severe Brain Injury after Jimmo v. Sebelius, 44 J.L. MED. & ETHICS 182 (2016), with Joseph J. Fins, Claudia Kraft, Alix Rogers, Marina B. Romani, Samantha Godwin, and Michael R. Ulrich (second author) (peer-reviewed).

Lincoln’s Promise:  Congress, Veterans, and Traumatic Brain Injury, HASTINGS CTR. FORUM BLOG, June 21, 2016,, with Michael R. Ulrich, Kyle Edwards, Nathan Guevremont, Joel Ramirez, Nina Varsava, and Joseph J. Fins (second author).

Substance Abuse

Community Engagement: Perspectives on an Essential Element of Juvenile Drug Courts Implementing Reclaiming Futures, 10 DRUG COURT REV. 116 (2016), with Alison Greene, Kendra Thompson-Dyck, Monica Davis, and Katie Haverly (third author) (peer-reviewed).

Book Reviews


The Man Question: Male Subordination and Privilege, TEACHERS COLLEGE RECORD (2011) (reviewing Nancy E. Dowd’s THE MAN QUESTION (2010)).


Panelist, Pandemic Justice, Rock Ethics Institute Ethics Now Podcast, June 12, 2020