Professor Aurora Plomer

Professor Aurora Plomer

Position: Professor of Law and Bioethics
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 6755
Room No: EF11
Follow me on twitter: @AuroraPlomer and Matrix Chambers Eutopialaw blog

Academic Profile

Chair in Law and Bioethics, Director of SIBLE, School of Law, University of Sheffield (from 1st January 2007). Previously Reader and Lecturer in Law at the University of Nottingham (July 2003 - 2006), Lecturer in Law at the University of Leeds (1993 -2003), Philosophy Tutor (P/T) Open University (1988-1992).

On Research Leave from September 2014 to January 2015. Fernand Braudel Senior Visiting Fellow at EUI


  • PhD, Philosophy, University of Lancaster (UK), British Academy Award
  • M.A., Philosophy, University of Lancaster (UK), Distinction, Senate Award.
  • B.A., Hons, Philosophy, University of Lancaster (UK), Peel Award.
  • LLB, Hons, University of Manchester (UK), Lawson-Markesinis Prize.

Teaching and Learning

My teaching largely reflects my research interests and publications on ethical and legal aspects of the regulation of new biotechnologies, the European Patent System and the interface between the protection of fundamental human rights in European and international law and intellectual property rights and patents.

I am the module coordinator for PG Torts module in the MA Law program. I have award winning experience of developing innovative teaching materials in core subjects of the LLB with the support of City Solicitors’ Education Trust.

The modules I teach are:

Postgraduate and MA Undergraduate
European Patent Law (Convenor) Law School - Without It No Success
Intellectual Property: Patents, Trade Secrets & Branding
Intellectual Property Rights and Human Rights (Convenor)
The Law of Torts (Convenor)

Research Interests

I am currently researching the history and governance of the European patent system and the new Unified Patent Court. I am also researching the historical and philosophical foundations of socio-economic and cultural rights in international law, particularly the tension between public rights of access the benefits of science and the private rights of authors and inventors to the protection of their moral and material interests in Article 27 UDHR and Article 15 ICESCR. This work will be published in a book ‘Patents, Human Rights and Access to the Benefits of Science’ (Edward Elgar, October 2015):

I have published widely on the intersection between human rights, bioethics and IP rights in Europe, particularly in connection with stem cells and emerging technologies in the life-sciences. My research on European law on biotechnological inventions and stem cell patents has been relied upon in the leading cases heard by the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Organization, the German Federal Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union. I also have active links with the legal profession, as a regular contributor to the Matrix Chambers blog on European Union law: Eutopia Law.

In 2008, I was a visiting fellow at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Stanford. The visits were funded by the ESRC. You can see a video of the lecture I gave at the University of California at Berkeley here. In 2011, I held a visiting fellowship funded by the Brocher Foundation in Geneva in connection with my forthcoming book on Human Rights, IP Rights and New Biotechnologies. In Hilary 2012, I was a visiting fellow at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Intellectual Property and at the Uehiro Centre for Applied Ethics. The visit was funded by the Wellcome Trust. You can listen to podcasts of the lectures I delivered during my Oxford visit here. In 2014, I was a Fernand Braudel Fellow at EUI where I researched the constitutional and human rights challenges posed by the creation of the Unified Patent Court.

My studies and research have been funded by the British Academy, the Council of Europe, the Wellcome Trust, the ESRC and the European Commission. I was the PI of a major European project on moral exclusions to patents on human embryonic stem cells funded by the European Commission under the FP6 program (2005-2006).I am a rapporteur and reviewer for major research funders and publishers in the UK, Europe and the USA. I am a member of the UK ESRC Impact Committee on the Stem Cell Initiative, the Hinxton Group, the AAAS´ Science and Human Rights Coalition working group on 'Science, Ethics and Human Rights’, an advisor to the Stem Cell and Society Program at the University of Stanford and a member of the European Commission panel of ethics experts. .

Areas of Research Supervision

  • European Patent System
  • Intellectual Property Rights and Human Rights
  • History and philosophical foundations of International Law
  • International Bioethics and bio-law
  • Ethical and legal aspects of research in the Life-Sciences

Key Projects/Grants

Title/Description: Fernand Braudel Senior Fellowship
Awarding Body: European University Institute, Florence
Dates: September 2014 - December 2014
Amount: EUROS 9,000
Title/Description: International Visiting Fellowship, University of Berkeley, Centre for Business, Law and the Economy and University of Stanford, Stem Cell & Society Programme
Awarding Body: ESRC (UK Stem Cell Initiative)
Dates: 2008-2009
Amount: £3,000
Title/Description: Visiting costs to the AAAS in Washington DC and the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford
Awarding Body: Wellcome Trust
Dates: 2011
Amount: £5,000

Recent Invited Papers and Keynote Lectures

  • ‘IP in front of the European Court of Human Rights’, 17th EIPIN Congress, Intellectual Property and the Judiciary, joint meeting of the Centre d’Etudes Internationales the la Propriete Intellectuelle (CEIPI) & Spangenberg Center for Law, Technology and the Arts, Strasbourg, 28th- 30th January 2016.
  • ‘Stem Cell Research and Patents in the European Union’, International Conference: IP and the Life Sciences, joint meeting of the Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London & the Centre for Life Sciences Law, University of Basel, Basel, 13th-14th November 2015.
  • ‘IP, Ethics and the Brustle ruling’, The impact of ethical considerations on the existence or enforcement of IP Rights, Joint annual event of UCL’s Institute for Brand and Innovation Law (IBIL) and the International Association for the Protection of Intellectual Property (AIPPI), UCL, London, 18th November 2015.
  • ‘Out of Control: the EU’s Ambition for a Unitary Patent’, Joint Workshop organised by EUI’s ESIL Interest Group on The EU as a Global Actor and the Centre for the Law of EU External Relations (CLEER), The EU and International Dispute Settlement EUI, Florence, 19th-20th February 2015.
  • ‘A Unitary Patent for a (dis) United Europe’, EUI, Florence, 8th December 2014
    Advocate General Cruz Villalon's Opinion in Case C-364/13, International Stem Cell Corporation v Comptroller General of Patents, EUI, Florence, 23rd October 2014

Professional Activities and Recognition

  • European Commission, Health & Innovation, Ethics Expert Panel Member
  • Member of the ESRC Policy Impact Group for the Stem Cell Initiative.
  • Member of the UK´s Medical Research Council´s expert committee on Human Developmental Biology Resource (HDBR).
  • Member of the Wellcome Trust Biomedical Ethics Interview Committee
  • Member of the AAAS' Science and Human Rights' Coalition Working Group on Science, Ethics and Human Rights

Advisory Posts

  • Adviser to the Stem Cell & Society Programme (University of Stanford, US)
  • Adviser to the Hinxton Group (Cambridge)

Key Publications


Journal articles


  • Plomer A (2015) Human dignity and patents, Research Handbook on Human Rights and Intellectual Property (pp. 479-495).. View this article in White Rose Research Online
  • Plomer A (2009) Towards Systemic Legal Conflict: Article 6(2) (c) of the EU Directive on Biotechnological Inventions In Plomer A & Torremans P (Ed.), Embryonic Stem Cell Patients: European Law and Ethics (pp. 203-226). OUP.