Margaret Foster Riley

Fast Facts

  • Chair, UVA's Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight Committee
  • Director, UVA School of Law Animal Law Program
  • Served on four National Academies of Science committees
  • Expertise in food and drug law, health law, animal law, bioethics, regulation of clinical research, public health law

Areas Of Expertise

  • Domestic Affairs
  • Health
  • Law and Justice
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Issues

Margaret Foster Riley, Dorothy Danforth Compton Professor at the Miller Center, is professor of law at UVA Law School, professor of public health sciences at the UVA School of Medicine, and professor of public policy at the University’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. She also directs the Animal Law Program at the law school.

A scholar working in the intersection of law, regulation, policy, and ethics in the Life Sciences, Riley has written and presented extensively about health care law, biomedical research, genetics, food and drug regulation, reproductive technologies, human and animal biotechnology, and public health. She is currently a member of the NIH NExTRAC, a FACA committee that advises the NIH Director on issues concerning emerging biotechnologies. She served on four National Academies committees: the Committees on Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects, Assessing Toxicological Risks to Human Subjects, Assessment of the Care and Use of Dogs in Biomedical Research Funded by or Conducted at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Pain Management and Regulatory Strategies to Reduce Prescription Opioid Abuse (consultant to the committee).

Riley has advised numerous state and federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration; the Environment Protection Agency; the Department of Defense; committees of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine; the Virginia Department of Health; and the Virginia Bar.

Prior to her academic career, Riley was an associate at Rogers & Wells, a law firm in New York, and at Pepper, Hamilton & Scheetz, a law firm in Philadelphia. From 2017-2019, she served as the faculty member of the University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors.

Riley earned her law degree from Columbia University and her BA from Duke University.

Margaret Foster Riley News Feed

"Pregnant women are participating in a vast, uncontrolled study every time they have to use a drug. That is a problem."
Margaret Foster Riley Healio
There has long been a belief that pregnant and lactating women are excluded from clinical research due to potential legal liability. However, until now, there has never been a systematic examination of legal liability in the US for the inclusion of pregnant and lactating women in clinical research and whether this fear of liability is supported by evidence.
Margaret Foster Riley JAMA Network
When pregnant women get sick in the United States, they take medications that have been tested almost entirely on people who are not pregnant. Now, a federal report is pushing back on the long-held notion that pregnant people are “too vulnerable” to participate in clinical trials.
Margaret Foster Riley The Fuller Project
Many projects of international scope from the 1990s have become targets of populist revolt—including the conversion of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) into the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Communities into the European Union, the privatization of foreign investment protection, the human rights revolution, open borders for migrants, and cyberspace itself. Paul Stephan's latest book, The World Crisis and International Law: The Knowledge Economy and the Battle for the Future, calls for new approaches to international law, based not on grand projects to remake the world but on pragmatic and more limited state-led innovations. Margaret Foster Riley, Paul Mahoney, and Paul Stephan discuss what brought the world to such a perilous state, and how pathways to productive international cooperation exist and can be extended.
Margaret Riley Miller Center Presents
Join the co-chairs of the Miller Center’s Health Care Policy Project to discuss a new assessment of the U.S. health care system that focuses on American hospitals—their politics, their financing, and the complex relationships that exist with the local communities in which they are embedded. Guian McKee's latest book, Hospital City, Health Care Nation: Race, Capital, and the Costs of American Health Care, recasts the story of the U.S. health care system by focusing on urban hospitals and academic medical centers to argue that such institutions have become vital, if often problematic, economic anchors for communities.
Margaret Riley Miller Center Presents
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed significant weaknesses in U.S. global health security policy and infrastructure, leading to crises on several fronts. The Miller Center’s new Health Care Policy Project joins Stephen Morrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)—also the Miller Center’s James R. Schlesinger Distinguished Professor—along with Tom Inglesby and Anne Zink for a timely and important conversation about what lies ahead for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In January 2023, the CSIS’s Commission on Strengthening America’s Health Security released a compelling report, Building the CDC the Country Needs, which examines why the CDC is essential to protecting the health of Americans and highlights the peril the agency currently faces. Three years into the pandemic, what is the way forward to improve the CDC’s performance and restore the trust and confidence of the American people?
Margaret Riley Miller Center Presents