Yale University

Kristen Underhill, J.D., Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
  • Member, Community Research and Implementation Core, CIRA
  • Member, Interdisciplinary Research Methods Core, CIRA
(212) 854-9371


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.

Selected Publications:

  • Underhill K, Dumont D, Operario D. "HIV prevention for adults with criminal justice involvement: A systematic review of HIV risk-reduction interventions in incarceration and community settings." American Journal of Public Health. 2014;In press. PMID: 25211725.

  • Underhill K. "Intimacy, condom use, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) acceptability among men who have sex with men (MSM) in primary partnerships." Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 2014;In press.  PMID: 25245137.

  • Underhill K. "Legal and ethical values in the resolution of research-related disputes." Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics. 2014;9(1):71-82. PMID: 24572085.

  • Underhill K, Mayer KH. "Sexual behaviour among users of antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis." The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2013;13(12):996-997. PMID: 24139638.

  • Underhill K. "Risk-taking and rulemaking: Addressing risk compensation behavior through FDA regulation of prescription drugs." The Yale Journal on Regulation (JREG). 2013;30(2):377-437.

  • Underhill K, Morrow KM, Operario D, Mayer KH. "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." AIDS and Behavior. 2014;18(2):241-249. PMID: 23673790.

  • Underhill K. "Study designs for identifying risk compensation behavior among users of biomedical HIV prevention technologies: Balancing methodological rigor and research ethics." Social Science & Medicine. 2013;94:115-123. PMID: 23597916.

  • Underhill K. "Paying for prevention: Challenges to health insurance coverage for biomedical HIV prevention in the United States." American Journal of Law & Medicine. 2012;38(4):607-666.

  • Underhill, K. "Measuring PrEP-associated risk compensation: Limitations of double-blinded trials." New England Journal of Medicine (2011), 364(14):1374. PMID: 21470023.

  • Underhill, K,, Operario, D,, Skeer, M, Mimiaga M, Mayer K. "Packaging PrEP to prevent HIV: An integrated framework to plan for pre-exposure prophylaxis implementation in clinical practice." Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, 2010;55(1):8-13. PMID: 21423876.

  • Underhill K, Operario D, Mimiaga M, Skeer M, Mayer K. "Implementation science of pre-exposure prophylaxis: Preparing for public use." Current HIV/AIDS Reports, 2010;7(4):210-19. PMID: 20820971.

  • Underhill K, Montgomery P, Operario D. "Maximizing the clinical relevance of sexual abstinence-only program evaluations." Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2010;164(7):679. PMID: 20603474.

Areas of Expertise:
  • Health law
  • Torts
  • Law and behavior