Kristen Underhill

Kristen Underhill


Kristen Underhill is an Associate Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. Her scholarship focuses on health law, with a particular interest in how the law influences individual decisions about risk and health behavior. She teaches health law and torts.

Underhill studies how laws and regulations affect individual choices by arranging incentives, shaping opportunities, influencing underlying preferences, and communicating information about social norms. Recent projects have focused on how financial incentives influence attitudes about organ donation; the influence of implicit racial bias in altruistic decisions; dispute resolution for injuries and complaints related to biomedical research; and relationships between harm reduction and risk behavior.  She is also currently completing a five-year study of access to new HIV prevention technologies, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Underhill received her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2011, serving as editor-in-chief of the Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics. Underhill also holds a D.Phil. in evidence-based social intervention from the University of Oxford, and she completed an NIH-funded postdoctoral research fellowship at Brown University's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

  • J.D., Yale University, 2011
  • D.Phil., University of Oxford, 2007
  • M.Sc., University of Oxford, 2005
  • A.B., Harvard University, 2004
Areas of Expertise
  • Health law
  • Torts
  • Law and behavior
  • “When Extrinsic Incentives Displace Intrinsic Motivation: Designing Legal Carrots and Sticks to Confront the Challenge of Motivational Crowding-Out,” Yale Journal on Regulation, 2016
  • “Extrinsic Incentives, Intrinsic Motivation, and Motivational Crowding-Out in Health Law and Policy,” Nudging Health: Health Law and Behavioral Economics, 2016
  • “Risk-Taking and Rulemaking: Addressing Risk Compensation Behavior through FDA Regulation of Prescription Drugs,” Yale Journal on Regulation, 2013
  • “Paying for Prevention: Challenges to Health Insurance Coverage for Biomedical HIV Prevention in the United States,” American Journal of Law & Medicine, 2012
  • “Transferring Behavioral Interventions for Global Health: Intellectual Property Barriers, Information Constraints, and Possible Solutions,” Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, & Ethics, 2010
  • “Could FDA Approval of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Make a Difference? A Qualitative Study of PrEP Acceptability and FDA Perceptions among Men Who Have Sex with Men,” (with Kathleen M. Morrow, Don Operario and Kenneth H. Mayer), AIDS & Behavior, 2014
  • “Legal and Ethical Values in the Resolution of Research-Related Disputes: How Can IRBs Respond to Participant Complaints?” Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 2014
  • “HIV Prevention for Adults with Criminal Justice Involvement: A Systematic Review of HIV Risk-Reduction Interventions in Incarceration and Community Settings,” (with Dora Dumont and Don Operario), American Journal of Public Health, 2014
  • “Access to Healthcare, HIV/STI Testing, and Preferred Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Providers among Men Who Have Sex with Men and Men Who Engage in Street-Based Sex Work in the U.S.,” (with Kathleen M. Morrow, Christopher M. Colleran, Richard Holcomb, Don Operario, Sarah K. Calabrese, Omar Galarraga, and Kenneth H. Mayer), Public Library of Science ONE, 2014
  • “A Qualitative Study of Medical Mistrust, Perceived Discrimination, and Risk Behavior Disclosure to Clinicians by U.S. Male Sex Workers and Other Men Who Have Sex with Men: Implications for Biomedical HIV Prevention,” (with Kathleen M. Morrow, Christopher Colleran, Richard Holcomb, Sarah K. Calabrese, Don Operario, Omar Galarraga, and Kenneth H. Mayer), Journal of Urban Health, 2015
  • “Explaining the Efficacy of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV Prevention: A Qualitative Study of Message Framing and Messaging Preferences among U.S. Men Who Have Sex with Men,” (with Kathleen M. Morrow, Christopher Colleran, Sarah K. Calabrese, Don Operario, Peter Salovey and Kenneth H. Mayer), AIDS & Behavior, 2016
  • “Study Designs for Identifying Risk Compensation Behavior among Users of Biomedical HIV Prevention Technologies: Balancing Methodological Rigor and Research Ethics,” Social Science & Medicine, 2013
Download Full C.V.
C. Law and Economics
Health Law
S. Private Law, Public Health: Uses and Limits of Tort Law for Advancing Public Health