J.D., UC Davis School of Law
L.L.M., Columbia University
Special interests: bioethics, stem cell research, ethics and law, health-care law, public health law, health disparities, reproductive justice, critical race feminism
Lisa Ikemoto has always been fascinated by science, even while studying law. While a student at the UC Davis School of Law, Bioethics was her favorite course, and her interest in the ways that race and gender affect access to health-care dates back to those early days at King Hall. Since earning her J.D. degree from the Law School in 1987 (and then her L.L.M. from Columbia University in 1989), she has been able to combine the two disciplines to become a Professor at King Hall, a nationally recognized scholar on the ethics of stem cell research, and a pioneer in the field of “critical race theory.”
Professor Ikemoto’s interest in stem cell research grew naturally from her scholarship and teaching on bioethics, health-care law, and public health law. Having published extensively on genetic and reproductive technology use, the regulation of fertility and pregnancy, and race and gender disparities in health care, she became aware of the ethical and legal issues surrounding stem cell research, ranging from questions of access to new technologies and treatments to ethical issues involved in the sale of human tissues.
“We need to address now the issues of who should benefit from and who will have access to publicly funded stem cell research,” said Ikemoto, who is a member of the UC Davis Stem Cell Advisory Group, which is coordinating the development and implementation of the university’s stem cell programs.
Professor Ikemoto is also active as an attorney, having recently been honored for her pro bono work to secure reparations for Japanese Americans interned during World War II, and has been involved in a variety of social issues related to the treatment of women and minorities, particularly Asian Americans. She has been a leading scholar in the field of critical race theory, which explores ways in which racism, patriarchy, and other systems of oppression are so deeply rooted in social institutions and cultural norms that they impact individuals in ways that are not commonly thought of as discriminatory. She remains focused on using her dual interests in science and the law in ways that benefit the public interest.
“I use critical race theory in my research to uncover civil rights issues that civil rights law does not yet reach,” said Ikemoto.