Jacob S. Sherkow

Professor of Law
Professor of Medicine, Carle Illinois College of Medicine
Professor, European Union Center
Affiliate, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology


Jacob S. Sherkow is Professor of Law at the College of Law, Professor of Medicine at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, Professor at the European Union Center, and Affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois. His research focuses on the legal and ethical implications of advanced biotechnologies, especially as related to intellectual property. He is a leading expert on IP protection for genome-editing technologies, including CRISPR. He is the author of over 60 articles published in both scientific journals and traditional law reviews, including ScienceNature, JAMA, the Yale Law Journal, and the Stanford Law Review. Since 2018, Sherkow has also been a Permanent Visiting Professor at the Center for Advanced Studies in Biomedical Innovation Law (“CeBIL”) at the University of Copenhagen Faculty of Law.

Sherkow’s work has been recognized by both the scientific and legal communities. From 2018 to 2021, he was appointed to the National Academy of Medicine as an Emerging Leader in Health and Medicine Scholar, and currently serves as an Academic Advisor to the Academies’ Committee on Emerging Science, Technology, and Innovation. Sherkow also serves on the editorial board of a peer-reviewed scientific journal, The CRISPR Journal. His scholarship has won multiple prizes, including the 2018 Otto L. Walter Distinguished Writing Award.

Beyond his scholarship, Sherkow teaches a variety of courses related to intellectual property and the life sciences; at his previous institution, he was the winner of the Class of 2017 Teaching Award. Sherkow has served as an expert in patent disputes in both the United States and Germany, and has also been an advisor to a committee of France’s National Assembly on issues concerning the patenting of biotechnological research tools. He has been a frequent commentator on patent matters in popular media outlets such as the Wall Street JournalThe New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and NPR. Sherkow also regularly advises investment firms on matters pertaining to patent litigation in the biosciences.

Immediately prior to joining Illinois, Sherkow was the Edmond J. Safra/Petrie-Flom Centers Joint Fellow-in-Residence at Harvard University and Professor of Law at the Innovation Center for Law and Technology at New York Law School. Sherkow has also held visiting academic positions at Stanford Law School and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. In practice, Sherkow has been a patent litigator at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and a law clerk in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Sherkow graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was an editor of the Michigan Law Review and the recipient of the Fred L. Leckie and James N. Adler Scholarships. He holds an M.A. in biotechnology from Columbia University and a B.Sc. from McGill University, where he majored in molecular biology and English literature. In addition to his legal training, Sherkow has several years of experience as a research scientist in molecular biology, is a certified Editor in the Life Sciences (BELS), and is an avid squash player. He is admitted to practice in the State of Illinois, New York State, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and various federal courts. His recent scholarship is available on IDEALSSSRN, and Google Scholar.


JD University of Michigan Law School
MA Columbia University
BSc McGill University


Patent Law
Genomics and the Law