Professor Graham Dutfield

Professor Graham Dutfield


I am Professor of International Governance at the School of Law, University of Leeds. As such I have a keen interest, going back several decades, in governance of technology, knowledge and property in the context of such major global challenges as public health, food security, biodiversity conservation, ecosystems management, and climate change.

Prior to joining University of Leeds, I was the Herchel Smith Senior Research Fellow at CCLS, Queen Mary. I have been teaching intellectual property law since 2003. During the 1990s I worked with the late Dr Darrell Posey, an esteemed scholar and activist, and together we wrote the first book specifically for indigenous peoples on intellectual property and traditional resource rights. From 2001-2 I served as Academic Director of the ICTSD-UNCTAD Capacity-building Project on Intellectual Property Rights and Development, based in Geneva. I am also Adjunct Professor, Centre for Studies of Intellectual Property Rights, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan, China, and a Member of the Expert Advisory Group of the Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (ACIPA).

I present my research around the world, and have given lectures at various prestigious institutions including University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, Harvard University, Yale University, Boston University, Osgoode Hall Law School (Canada), NALSAR (India), and the World Bank. In July 2016 I gave an invited lecture at the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court of Thailand before the Chief Justice and over fifty judges.

I have also advised governments including those of Brazil, Ghana, Namibia, Saint Lucia and Zambia, as well as the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry of the South African Parliament, and the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter. I have been referred to as "one of the world’s leading experts on issues of traditional knowledge and intellectual property" (D Halbert, 2001), and "a leading thinker on intellectual property rights in the life science industries" (W Hoffman & L Furcht, 2014). I remain engaged in the struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples in relation to their knowledge and genetic resources, as well as access to medicines advocacy, and genetic resources issues in the context of agriculture and biomedical research. Currently I serve as a member of the Traditional Knowledge Expert Group (TKEG), convened by the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a leading Canadian think-tank. I am also a partner on the Voices for BioJustice project, led by University of Cape Town. The project focuses on enhancing policy processes affecting local communities, traditional knowledge and resources, and biodiversity, including those relating to access and benefit-sharing. It also addresses emerging technologies affecting biodiversity and indigenous groups.

I have been quoted in The Economist, Science, the Times of India, the Wall Street Journal, and the web editions of ABC News and CNN, and in two recent United Nations reports: The World Intellectual Property Report 2015 of the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the Final Report of the United Nations Secretary General's High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines. I have also been cited in publications authored by two Nobel laureates: Elinor Ostrom and Joseph Stiglitz.

Research interests

My research on intellectual property crosses several disciplines, including law, history, politics, economics and anthropology. More general scholarly interests include the law, science and business of creativity and technical innovation from the enlightenment to the present, especially in the life sciences. That I have externally examined some 40 PhDs in disciplines ranging from law to anthropology, archaeology, geography, international relations and theology, and at such institutions as Cambridge and Oxford Universities, University College London, European University Institute, Université de Genève, Australian National University, and University of Sydney, testifies to the broad scope of my research and its international recognition.

The latest productions resulting from my research are a second edition of Dutfield and Suthersanen on Global Intellectual Property Law, and a history of the pharmaceutical industry called That High Design of Purest Gold: A Critical History of the Pharmaceutical Industry, 1880-2020. The latter book has had some glowing tributes including from Daniel Kevles (Emeritus Professor of History at Yale University): “a tour de force”, and Chas Bountra (Professor of Translational Medicine and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, University of Oxford): “a fabulous read”. 

Other research areas include intellectual property and access to knowledge, human rights, sustainable development, health, agriculture, genetics, biotechnology, traditional knowledge and folklore, bioprospecting, and indigenous peoples' rights.  For further information on my research with some downloadable papers, please see my profile on

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Student education

I teach patent law; copyright law; intellectual property management; intellectual property and genetic resources, traditional knowledge and cultural expressions; and intellectual property and health, food and biotechnology.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Business Law and Practice

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>