Scott Burris

Professor of Law
Director, Center for Public Health Law Research

Scott Burris, J.D., is a Professor of Law at Temple Law School, where he directs the Center for Public Health Law Research. He is also a Professor in Temple’s School of Public Health.

Burris began his career in public health law during the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. He was the editor of the first systematic legal analysis of HIV in the United States, AIDS and the Law: A Guide for the Public (Yale University Press, 1987; New Guide for the Public published 1993), and spent several years lobbying and litigating on behalf of people with HIV as an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union. Since joining the Temple faculty in 1991, his research has focused on how law influences public health and health behavior.  In 2009, he founded the Public Health Law Research Program for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which has supported over 80 empirical studies of the impact of law on health, as well as LawAtlas, an innovative policy surveillance portal, and a comprehensive resource on scientific health law research methods.

He is the author of over 200 books, book chapters, articles and reports on issues including urban health; discrimination against people with HIV and other disabilities; HIV policy; research ethics; and the health effects of criminal law and drug policy. He has been particularly interested in developing theory and methods aimed at promoting effective local health governance. His work has been supported by organizations including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development, AmfAR and the Trust for America’s Health, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He has served as a consultant to numerous United States and international organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Institute of Medicine and to the producers of the Oscar-winning film Philadelphia. He is a founder of Legal Science, LLC, a private company dedicated to the social mission of improving access to legal information and the supporting of the practice of policy surveillance. He has been a visiting scholar at RegNet at the Australian National University, and a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Cape Town Law School. He is affiliated with the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale, and serves as an advisor to the Tsinghua University AIDS Institute, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Research Center for HIV/AIDS Public Policy and the Program in Bioethics at Monash University.

In 2014, he was the recipient of the American Public Health Association Law Section Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2018 he was the recipient of the Jay Healey Health Law Professors award. Professor Burris is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis (A.B.) and Yale Law School (J.D.).


J.D., Yale Law School
B.A., Washington University (St. Louis)

Research & Teaching Areas

Areas of Expertise

Selected Publications

Publications and Media Appearances

Public Health Law Research Program


  • Editor, Public Health Law and Policy Abstracts, Social Science Research Network, 2005-present
  • Contributing Editor, Public Health Reports, 2017-present