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Get to Know: Anya Prince

Anya Prince, Associate Professor of Law and Member of the University of Iowa Genetics Cluster

At the UI since: August 2017

South Pasadena/Los Angeles 

Alma Mater:
BA, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), 2004
MPP, Georgetown University, 2010
JD, Georgetown University, 2010

What did you do before joining Iowa Law? In law school, I took a class in genetics and society and fell in love with it. Since then, I have been doing everything I could to work in this field. I worked for a nonprofit called the Cancer Legal Resource Center directly after law school where I got to work with clients who were either fearful of genetic discrimination, or experienced genetic discrimination. During my fellowship there I helped them with insurance appeals and education. 

Then I moved into the research realm and worked on research at the UNC School of Medicine looking at whether or not we should screen healthy adults for preventive genetic conditions as a public health measure. 

Throughout that experience, I’ve always taught here and there, and knew I loved that so I wanted to find a place where I could do both research and teaching and ended up here.

What courses do you teach? Insurance law, Health law, Genetics and the Law, and I co-teach a medical seminar for law students. 

What does your scholarship entail? My research focuses on the intersection of genetic technologies and insurance. I explore both whether and how health insurers will pay for genetic technologies and how other types of insurance, like life, disability, or auto insurance could use genetic information. 

How did you decide to join the legal profession? I like to say it’s in my genes. My mom was a teacher and my dad was a professor, so I grew up appreciating both the academic and intellectual side of that. I also had the joy of being able to get to know my parents’ students as I was growing up. The legal academy is a space where you have the freedom to do research on cutting edge topics, but also include students on those projects and teach the next generation of lawyers and health scholars.
What do you enjoy most about working in a higher education/law school setting? The University of Iowa has great researchers across campus working on some aspect of genetics and excited about interdisciplinary collaboration. The UI is really one of the best places that I can do my legal research because of that community, but it also translates really well into teaching. It is always great to see students interact with doctors, nurses, and genetic counselors across campus to learn what health law looks like on the ground level. 

What makes you passionate about your work? I think what makes me passionate about the genetics side of my work is I have no idea what I am going to be researching in five years because the technology is improving and changing so rapidly, but I know it’s going to be interesting and raise huge legal and ethical issues. 

From the teaching side, it’s really fun to be able to challenge baseline legal principals through new technologies. In my insurance law class, the students are working on projects where they are looking at how insurers use big data and genetic information. So, in classes like that, we can examine cutting edge issues with new technology and learn more about the basics of the law through that investigation. 

What are your impressions of Iowa City so far? Enjoying? It’s been extremely welcoming. As a California girl, I’m still getting used to the concept of negative 50 degrees, but with all the bike trails in our area and places to kayak like out at Terry Trueblood, it’s been really fun to have that mix of city and countryside. 

If you could get rid of one invention in the world, what would you choose? Why? I would get rid of some of the super specific kitchen gadgets that only have one purpose. 

What’s your favorite book, or what are you reading right now & why do you enjoy it? My favorite book is Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman.

Name five of your favorite things. 

  • Rock climbing
  • Board games
  • Podcasts
  • Travel, my favorite spot is Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Bread
Anya Prince