Newcastle Law School

Staff Profile

Dr Aisling McMahon

Lecturer in Law



Aisling joined Newcastle Law School in February 2014. Her principal areas of research are medical law and intellectual property law, with a particular interest in patents and biotechnology. She obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh which examined the institutional framework for the application of the morality provisions in the 'European' patent system. Aisling was awarded a Principal's Career Development Award (2011-2014) from the University of Edinburgh to support this research. She was Managing Editor (2012-2013) and then Editor-in-Chief (2013-2015) of SCRIPTed Journal of Law, Technology and Society, and is currently the Book Reviews Editor for Medical Law International  (2017-present).

Aisling was previously a tutor in advanced legal methods and medical jurisprudence at Edinburgh Law School, and an AHRC research fellow on the 'Banking (On) the Brain' project at the University of Edinburgh. This inter-disciplinary project explored whether and how conceptions of the brain emanating from key Arts and Humanities disciplines and scientific research was reflected in the legal framework for brain-banking in the UK. From 2010-2011, Aisling was a Judicial Research Assistant carrying out legal research for members of the Irish judiciary based in the Four Courts Dublin. Prior to this, she was a tutor in contract law, criminal law and sociology of law at the National University of Ireland, Galway.


Newcastle Teaching Award, Newcastle University (2015)

PhD, University of Edinburgh (2015)

LL.M. (Law, Technology and Governance)  NUI Galway (2009)

BCL NUI Galway (2008)

Dioplóma sa Ghaeilge (Diploma in Legal Irish) NUI Galway (2007) 

Roles and Responsibilities 

Induction Co-ordinator (2016-present)

Research Committee Member, Newcastle Law School (2015-present)

UG Third Year Stage Tutor (2015-2016)

Editor Newcastle Law School Newsletter (2014-2016)


Associate Fellow Higher Education Academy (2015-present)

Member of the Society of Legal Scholars

Member of the International Association for the Advancement of Teaching and Research in Intellectual Property (ATRIP) 



Main Research Interests

Aisling's current research explores the institutional influences on the application of the morality provisions in the European patent system for biotechnological inventions. She is also interested in a number of aspects of medical law, in particular: donation of biomaterials/data for medical research, biobanking, and assisted human reproduction.

In March 2017, she will be a Caroline Miles Visiting Researcher at the Ethox Centre, University of Oxford. During this time she will be working on a project examining the institutional influences on legal approaches to gene patentablity in the US, EU and Canada. Aisling has also recently been awarded a British Academy/Leverhumle Small Research Grant which will be used to conduct empirical interviews examining the legal frameworks and recent cases on gene patentablity in these jurisdictions. As part of this project she will be a visiting researcher at the Hastings Center and the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics in May 2017.

Selected Conference Presentations

'Gene Patentablity and Access to Health: Bridging an Institutional Divide', Ethox Centre, University of Oxford, 14th March 2017.

‘Ireland, Abortion and the European Convention on Human Rights’ (with Dr Bríd Ní Ghráinne), Sheffield Law School Research Seminar, 23rd November, 2016. 

‘Ireland, Abortion, and International Law’ (with Dr Bríd Ní Ghráinne), American Society of International Law Mid-Year Meeting, University of Washington School of Law, Seattle, 12th November 2016.

‘The Limits of Judicial Review in the Context of Transnational Governance: A Case Study of the European Patent Office’ Public Law Reform Now Conference, Sussex University, Brighton, 20-21st September 2016.

The Myriad Gene Patent Cases and Controversy: Balancing Public and Private Interests in the patentability of health related inventions, at the International Association of Bioethics (IAB) World Congress, Edinburgh, June 2016

Embryonic Stem Cells, Morality and Overlapping Supra-national frameworks in the European Patent System: Too many cooks?' at the International Association for Teaching and Research in Intellectual Property Law Congress, Krakow 28th June 2016

Whose Subjects, and Subject to Whose Laws? Stateless Children, (with Dr Bríd Ní Ghráinne, University of Sheffield School of Law) American Society of International Law (ASIL) Research Forum, Washington DC (24th October, 2015)

Stateless Children in the Context of International Surrogacy Agreements  (with Dr Bríd Ní Ghráinne, University of Sheffield) Society of Legal Scholars Conference, 3rd September, 2015

The Morality Provisions and the Unitary Patent Package: An Institutionalist Perspective, Intellectual Property Discussion Group,  University of Oxford, 10th March 2015.

Patents, Human Biobanks and Access to Health: Bridging the Public and Private Divide, Conference on Access to Material and Immaterial Goods:The Relationship between Intellectual Property and its Physical Embodiment, Faculty of Law, University of Lucerne, 24th January, 2015.

Morality, Dignity and Embryonic Stem Cells: A Patently Moral Approach? 33rd Congress of the International Association for the Advancement of Teaching and Research in Intellectual Property (ATRIP), Montpellier, 7th July, 2014

The legal framework for donation to brain banks: An appropriate balance of public interests, risk and patient safety? European Association for Health Law, Coimbra, Portugal, October 9th, 2013 

Banking (on) the Brain: Legal and Regulatory Framework, Body Bits: Social and Ethical Aspects of Donating Human Materials, Public Engagement Event, Surgeons' Hall Museum, Edinburgh, September 2nd, 2013 

Banking (on) the Brain: Exploratory Award: Reflections on experiences as an Early Career Researcher, AHRC Funders Workshop, Bristol, 7th September, 2013

Funding Awards

Caroline Miles Visiting Scholarship, Ethox Centre, University of Oxford (March 2017)

Principal’s Career Development Award, University of Edinburgh (2011-2014)

Michael McNamara Scholarship, RDJ Glynn Solicitors, Galway (2009)

Previous Roles

Convener, Postgraduate Research Committee, School of Law, University of Edinburgh (2013)


Medicine and the Law (Module Leader) Stage 3

International Intellectual Property Law (Module Leader) LLM 

Patents and Trademarks, Stage 3

Contract Law, Stage 1