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Administrative law, environmental law, food and drug law, nutrition labeling, pesticides in food, genetic testing, bioethics, gene therapy, prescription drugs, tobacco, food additives, toxic substance regulation, toxicology, carcinogens, legislation, Native American law

Richard A. Merrill

Daniel Caplin Professor of Law Emeritus
LL.B., Columbia University School of Law, 1964
B.A., Oxford University, 1961
M.A., Oxford University, 1961
A.B., Columbia University, 1959

An expert in administrative, environmental, and food and drug law, Richard A. Merrill joined the law faculty in 1969 after four years of practice with the Washington, D.C., firm Covington & Burling. In 1975 he took a leave from the Law School to serve for two years as chief counsel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where he received the FDA Commissioner's Special Citation and the agency's Award of Merit. He was dean of the Law School from 1980 to 1988. During the fall of 1988, he was scholar-in-residence at the National Wildlife Federation in Washington, and in the spring of 1989, he was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University. He was a member of the faculty of the American law session of the Salzburg Seminar in 1981 and 1986.

A former Rhodes scholar, Merrill was editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review. After graduation, he served as law clerk to Judge Carl McGowan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He has been a consultant to the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Merrill has been a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences since 1979, and has served on several IOM committees on such topics as risk assessment in environmental decisionmaking, pesticide regulation, nutrition labeling of food, science advisory committees at FDA, and food additive reform. Merrill currently is co-chair of the National Academies Program on Science, Technology, and Law.

Merrill is a member of the American Law Institute and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and the Virginia Law Foundation. Since 1991, he has been of counsel to Covington & Burling.

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Working Paper:

"Human Cloning and the FDA."


Administrative Law: The American Public Law System: Cases and Materials (with others) (West Academic, 7th ed. 2014).

Food and Drug Law: Cases and Materials
(with Peter Barton Hutt and Lewis A. Grossman) (Foundation Press, 4th ed. 2014).

Administrative Law: The American Public Law System - Cases and Materials
(with Jerry L. Mashaw & Peter M. Shane) (West, 3d ed. 1992; 4th ed. 1998; 5th ed. 2003).

Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committees (ed. with Richard A. Rettig & Laurence E. Earley) (National Academy Press, 1992).

Food and Drug Law: Cases and Materials with Supplements (with Peter Barton Hutt) (Foundation Press, 1980, 2d ed. 1991).

Nutrition Labeling: Issues and Directions for the 1990s (Chair, Institute of Medicine Committee on the Nutrition Components of Food Labeling) (National Academy Press, 1990).

Regulating Pesticides in Food: The Delaney Paradox (with others) (National Academy Press, 1987).

Administrative Law, the American Public Law System: Cases and Materials (with Jerry L. Mashaw) (West, 2d ed. 1985).

Risk Quantitation and Regulatory Policy (ed. with David G. Hoel & Frederica P. Perera) (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1985).

Risk Assessment in the Federal Government: Managing the Process (with others) (National Academy Press, 1983).

Introduction to the American Public Law System: Cases and Materials with Supplements (with Jerry L. Mashaw) (West, 1975).

Book Chapters/Multi-Author Works:

"The Centennial of U.S. Food Safety Law: A Legal and Administrative History," in Toward Safer Food: Perspectives on Risk and Priority Setting 23 (Sandra A. Hoffman & Michael R. Taylor eds., Resources for the Future, 2005).

"Gene Therapy, Law and FDA Role in Regulation" (with Gail H. Javitt), in Thomas J. Murray and Maxwell J. Jehlman, eds., Encyclopedia of Ethical, Legal and Policy Issues in Biotechnology 331 (John H. Wiley & Sons, 2000).

"FDA Regulation of Clinical Drug Trials," in Marc Hertzman & Douglas E. Feltner, eds., The Handbook of Psychopharmacology Trials: An Overview of Scientific, Political, and Ethical Concerns 61 (New York University Press, 1997).

“Regulatory Toxicology,” in Klaassen, Amdur, & Doull, eds., Casarett and Doull's Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons (Macmillan Pub. Co., 5th ed. 1996).

"Legal Impediments to the Use of Risk Assessment by Regulatory Agencies," in David G. Hoel et al., eds., Risk Quantitation and Regulatory Policy 41 (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 1985).

"OSHA's Generic Carcinogen Policy: Rule Making under Scientific and Legal Uncertainty: Comment," in J.D. Nyhart & Milton W. Carrow, eds., Law and Science in Collaboration 105 (D.C. Heath, 1983).

"Role of Regulatory Agencies" (with Richard R. Bates), in David Schottenfeld & Joseph F. Fromeini, Jr., eds., Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention 1123 (W.B. Saunders, 1982).

"Saccharin: A Regulator's View," in Robert W. Crandall & Lester B. Lave, eds., The Scientific Basis of Health and Safety Regulation 153 (Brookings Institution, 1981).


"Regulating Reproductive Genetics: A Review of American Bioethics Commissions and Comparison to the British Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority" (with Margaret Foster Riley), 6 Colum. Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. 1 (2005).

“Assessing Forensic Science” (with Donald Kennedy), Issues Sci. & Tech., Fall 2003, at 33.

“Science in the Regulatory Process: Foreword,” Law & Contemp. Probs., Autumn, 2003, at 1.

“Human Tissues and Reproductive Cloning: New Technologies Challenge FDA,” 3 Hous. J. Health L. & Pol’y 1 (2002).

"FDA Regulation of Human Cloning: Usurpation or Statesmanship?" (with Bryan J. Rose), 15 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 85 (2001).

"Genetic Testing: A Role for FDA?" 41 Jurimetrics J. 63 (2000).

"However Advertised, Prescription Drugs Are Only Available with a Doctor's Approval," 10 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 102 (2000).

"Organizing Federal Food Safety Regulation" (with Jeffrey K. Francer), 31 Seton Hall L. Rev. 61 (2000).

"Modernizing the FDA: An Incremental Revolution," 18 Health Affairs 96 (1999).

"The FDA May Not Regulate Tobacco Products As 'Drugs' or As 'Medical Devices'," 47 Duke L.J. 1071 (1998).

"FDA and Mutual Recognition Agreements," 53 Food and Drug L.J. 133 (1998).

"The Importance and Challenges of 'Mutual Recognition'," 29 Seton Hall L. Rev. 736 (1998).

"Starting from Scratch?: Reinventing the Food Additive Approval Process" (with Lars Noah), 78 B.U. L. Rev. 329 (1998).

"Food Safety Regulation: Reforming the Delaney Clause," 18 Ann. Rev. Pub. Health 313 (1997).

"The Architecture of Government Regulation of Medical Products," 82 Va. L. Rev. 1753 (1996).

"Origins and Causes of the Problem: The Regulatory Context," 24 Regulatory Toxicology & Pharmacology 214 (1996).

"Congress as Scientists," Envtl. Forum, Jan. 1994, at 20-26.

"Dedication," 8 J. Contemp. Health L. & Pol'y ix (1992).

"The FDA's Authority under the Delaney Clause to Consider Mechanisms of Action in Determining Whether Additives 'Induce Cancer'," (with Robert Z. Bohan, Frederick H. Degnan, & Stuart M. Pape). 47 Food & Drug L. J. 77 (1992).

"Tribute to Emerson G. Spies," 77 Va. L. Rev. 435 (1991).

"Food Labels: Couriers of Public Health," Va. L. Sch. Rep., Summer 1991, at 10-16.

"Foreword: Ten Years of Environmental Law: Regulating Environmental Carcinogens: Evolving Paradigms," 10 Va. Envtl. L. J. xiv (1990).

"Teacher, Lawyer, Public Servant, and Benefactor," 7 Va. Tax Rev. 415 (1988).

"FDA's Implementation of the Delaney Clause: Repudiation of Congressional Choice or Reasoned Adaptation to Scientific Progress?" 5 Yale J. on Reg. 1 (1988).

"Reflections at the End of a Deanship," Va. L. Sch. Rep., Summer 1988, at 3-6.

"Separation of Powers in the U.S. Government: Cooperation and Competition among the Branches," 18 Fed. L. Rev. 1 (1988).

"FDA's 'Erasure' of the Delaney Clause: A Study in Statutory Interpretation, the Glenn W. Kilpatrick Memorial Lecture," 50 A Food & Drug Officials Q. Bull. 199 (1986). Reprinted in FDA's Regulation of Carcinogenic Additives 87-104. U.S. Congress. House Committee on Government Operations. Hearing, June 24, 1987.

"Introductory Remarks," 5 Va. Tax Rev. 559 (1986).

"Introduction to Administrative Law Symposium," 72 Va. L. Rev. 215 (1986).

"Regulatory Trends in Product Assurance," in Future Directions in Product Assurance: Unilever Symposium 1985 63. (Unilever Research and Engineering Division, 1986).

"Regulatory Toxicology," in Curtis D. Klaassen et al., eds., Casarett and Doull's Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons 917-932 (Macmillan, 3d ed. 1986).

"Scientific Uncertainty in the Courts" (with Kenneth S. Abraham), Issues Sci. & Tech., Winter 1986, at 93-107.

"Reducing Diet-Induced Cancer through Federal Regulation: Opportunities and Obstacles," 38 Vand. L. Rev. 513 (1985).

"Saccharin: A Case Study of Government Regulation of Environmental Carcinogens" (with Michael R. Taylor)," 5 Va. J. Nat. Resources L. 1 (1985).

"Food and Drug Administration Regulation: An Unnecessary Barrier to New Product Innovation," 39 Food Drug Cosm. L. J. 113 (1984).

"The Legal System's Response to Scientific Uncertainty: The Role of Judicial Review," 4 Fundamental & Applied Toxicology S418 (1984).

"Tribute to Circuit Judge Carl McGowan," 96 FRD 291 (1983).

"Law Panel: Current Legal Issues Involving Health Risk Regulation" (with others), 22 Jurimetrics J. 403 (1982).

"Lewis F. Powell, Jr. and the University of Virginia Law School," 68 Va. L. Rev. 175 (1982).

"CPSC Regulation of Cancer Risks in Consumer Products: 1972-1981," 67 Va. L. Rev. 1261 (1981).

"Dedication in Honor of Professor A.D. Woozley," 67 Va. L. Rev. 1 (1981).

"Dedication to Monrad Paulsen," 67 Va. L. Rev. 443 (1981).

"FDA and the Effects of Substantive Rules," 35 Food Drug Cosm. L.J. 270 (1980).

"FDA Regulation of Environmental Contaminants of Food" (with Michael Schewel), 66 Va. L. Rev. 1357 (1980).

"Regulation of Carcinogens," Va. L. Wkly., Sept. 12, 1980, at 1, 3.

"Dedication to Dean Spies," 66 Va. L. Rev. 1029 (1980).

Problems Involving Federal Conflict of Interest Restrictions on Members of FDA Advisory Committees and Agency Officials (University of Rochester Medical Center, 1980).

"Regulating Carcinogens in Food: A Legislator's Guide to the Food Safety Provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act," 77 Mich. L. Rev. 171 (1978).

"Can the FDA Do Anything Right?" Va. L. Sch. Rep., Summer 1978, at 19-22.

"Risk-Benefit Decision Making by the Food and Drug Administration," 45 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 994 (1977).

"Suspect Products and FDA Control," Wash. Post, July 30, 1976, at 22.

"The Park Case," 30 Food Drug Cosm. L. J. 683 (1975).

"Administrative Rule-Making," 30 Food Drug Cosm. L. J. 478 (1975).

"'Like Mother Used to Make': An Analysis of FDA Food Standards of Identity" (with Earl M. Collier Jr.), 74 Colum. L. Rev. 561 (1974).

"Procedures for Adverse Actions Against Federal Employees," 59 Va. L. Rev. 196 (1973).

"Compensation for Prescription Drug Injuries," 59 Va. L. Rev. 1 (1973).


Statement (with Charles M. Benbrook) in Regulation of Pesticides 3-20. U.S. Congress. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Hearing, June 8, 1987.

Statement in Food Safety and Nutrition Amendments of 1978 291-308. U.S. Congress. House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. Hearings, July 18-20, 1978.

Book Reviews:

Review of Cranor, Regulating Toxic Substances, Issues in Sci. & Tech., Winter 1993/94, at 92-95.

"Regulation of Toxic Chemicals" (reviewing Shapo, A Nation of Guinea Pigs), 58 Tex. L. Rev. 463 (1980).

Review of Jackson, Food and Drug Legislation in the New Deal, and Blake, ed., Safeguarding the Public. 26 Reading Guide 1 (1971).

Review of Douglas, Points of Rebellion. 25 Reading Guide 17 (1970).
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    • Administrative Law
    • Environmental Health
    • Environmental Liability Litigation (seminar)
    • Food and Drug Law
    • Indian Law
    • Seminar in Ethical Values

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