Research: Leigh Turner, PhD

Leigh Turner, PhD

Associate Professor
Expertise: Health Care Ethics | Stem Cells | Regenerative Medicine | Science Policy | Medical Tourism | Emerging Medical Technologies

Dr. Leigh Turner’s primary research addresses ethical, legal, and social issues related to companies selling unproven and unlicensed “stem cell treatments.” He is the lead author of the Cell Stem Cell article, “Selling Stem Cells in the USA: Assessing the Direct-to-Consumer Industry” - the first empirical study to systematically document the proliferation of “stem cell clinics” within the U.S. Turner has been published in such journals as Regenerative Medicine, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, and The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. His scholarship on unproven stem cell interventions involves rigorous empirical analysis of the U.S. direct-to-consumer marketplace for these technologies, addresses ethical concerns related to this industry, and identifyies regulatory steps to take to provide more effective oversight. 

Turner’s secondary research examines ethical issues and policy concerns related to “medical tourism” and globalization of health services. He studies ethical and social dimensions of health-related travel and evaluate efforts to promote development by establishing national and regional “bioeconomies.” His research in this area has resulted in a co-edited volume, Risks and Challenges in Medical Tourism: Understanding the Global Market for Health Services, twenty-five peer-reviewed articles, ten book chapters, and thirty-eight presentations. His future work will address ethical issues and public policy concerns related to health-related travel.

Turner previously served as an Associate Professor, William Dawson Scholar, and Graduate Program Director in the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill University. Turner also functioned as a clinical ethicist at McGill University Health Centre. From 1998-2000 Turner was an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics and clinical ethicist at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. 

Turner received his PhD from the School of Religion & Social Ethics at the University of Southern California.. Turner has been a visiting scholar or fellow at the Brocher Foundation, Institute for Advanced Study, Institute for the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas, Radboud University Nijmegen, and the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs. 

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

  • Snyder J., Turner L. 2019. Crowdfunding for Stem Cell Based Interventions Intended to Treat Neurological Diseases and Injuries. Neurology. Accepted for publication May 13.*
  • Fu W., Smith C., Turner L., Fojtik J., Pacyna J., Master Z. 2019. Characteristics and Scope of Training of Clinicians Participating in the US Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace for Unproven Stem Cell Interventions. Journal of the American Medical Association. Accepted for publication April 17.*
  • Ikonomou L., Wagner DE., Turner L., Weiss DJ. 2019. Translating Basic Research into Safe and Effective Cell-based Treatments for Respiratory Diseases. Annals of the American Thoracic Society. March.*
  • Tanner C, Munsie M, Sipp D, Turner L, Wheatland C. 2019. The politics of evidence in online illness narratives: an analysis of crowdfunding for purported stem cell treatments. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health,Illness and Medicine. February: 1-22.*
  • Zarzeczny A., Atkins H., Illes J., Kimmelman J., Master Z., Robillard J., Snyder J., Turner L., Zettler P., Caulfield P. 2018. The stem cell market and policy options: a call for clarity. Journal of Law and the Biosciences. 1-16.*
  • Turner L. 2018. Direct-to-consumer marketing of stem cell interventions by Canadian Businesses. Regenerative Medicine. 13 (6): 643-658.*
  • Sipp D., Robey, P., and Turner L. 2018. Clear up this stem-cell mess. Nature. 561 (7724): 455-457.
  • Wagner D., Turner L., Panoskaltsis-Mortari A., Weiss D., Ikonomou L. 2018. Coopting of ClinicalTrials.gov by patient-funded studies. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. 6 (8): 579-581.
  • Turner L. 2018. The U.S. Direct-to-Consumer Marketplace for Autologous Stem Cell Interventions. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. 61, 1: 7-24.*
  • Snyder J., Turner L. 2018. Selling stem cell ‘treatments’ as research: prospective customer perspectives from crowdfunding campaigns. Regenerative Medicine. 13 (4): 375-384.*
  • Snyder J, Turner L, Crooks V. 2018. Crowdfunding for Unproven Stem Cell-Based Interventions. Journal of the American Medical Association. 319, 18: 1935-1936.*
  • Knoepfler P., Turner L. 2018. The FDA and the US direct-to-consumer marketplace for stem cell interventions: a temporal analysis. Regenerative Medicine. 13 (1): 19-27.*
  • Weiss D., Turner L., Levine A., Ikonomou L. 2018. Medical Societies, Patient Education Initiatives, Public Debate, and the Marketing of Unproven Stem Cell Interventions. Cytotherapy 20 (2): 165-168.*
  • Turner L. 2017. ClinicalTrials.gov, Stem Cells, and “Pay-to-Participate” Clinical Studies. Regenerative Medicine. 12 (6): 705-719.*
  • Martins Martinho A., Turner L. 2017. Stem Cells in Court: Historical Trends in U.S. Legal Cases Related to Stem Cells. Regenerative Medicine. 12 (4): 419-430.*
  • Crooks V., Whitmore, R., Snyder J., Turner, L. 2017. “Ensure that you are well aware of the risks you are taking…”: Actions and activities medical tourists’ informal caregivers can undertake to protect their health and safety. BMC Public Health. 17: 487: 1-10.*
  • Turner L., Knoepfler P. 2016. Selling Stem Cells in the USA: Assessing the Directto-Consumer Industry. Cell Stem Cell. 19 (2): 154-157.*
  • O’Donnell L., Turner L, Levine, A. 2016. The role of communication in better understanding unproven cellular therapies. Cytotherapy. 18, 1: 143-148.*
  • Dominici M., Nichols K., Srivastava A., Weiss D., Eldridge P., Cuende N., Deans R., Rasko J., Levine A., Turner L., Griffith D., O’Donnell L., Forte M., Mason C., Wagena E., Janssen W., Norton R., Wall, D., Ho H., Ruiz M., Wilton S., Horwitz E., Gunter K. 2015. Positioning a scientific community on unproven cellular therapies: The 2015 International Society for Cellular Therapy Perspective. Cytotherapy. 1: 1663-1666.
  • Turner L. 2015. Federal Regulatory Oversight of U.S. Clinics Marketing Adiposederived Autologous Stem Cell Interventions: Insights from Three New FDA Draft Guidance Documents. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 90, 5: 567-571.*
  • Turner L. 2015. U.S. Clinics Marketing Unproven and Unlicensed Adipose-derived Autologous “Stem Cell” Interventions. Regenerative Medicine 10, 4: 397-402.*
  • Turner L. 2015. U.S. Stem Cell Clinics, Patient Safety, and the FDA. Trends in Molecular Medicine. 21, 5: 271-273.*
  • Casey, V, Crooks V, Snyder J, Turner L. 2014. Knowledge brokers, companions, and navigators: a qualitative examination of informal caregivers’ roles in medical tourism. International Journal for Equity in Health. 12: 94 (10 page article)*
  • Turner L. 2013. Transnational Medical Travel: Ethical Dimensions of Global Healthcare. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. 22, 2: 170-180.*
  • Casey V, Crooks V, Snyder J, Turner L. 2013. ‘You’re dealing with an emotionally charged individual…’: an industry perspective on the challenges posed by medical tourists’ informal caregiver-companions. Globalization and Health. 9: 31. (12 page article)*
  • Crooks V, Turner L, Cohen G, Bristeir J, Snyder J, Casey V, Whitmore R. 2013. Ethical and legal implications of the risks of medical tourism for patients: A qualitative study of Canadian health and safety representatives’ perspectives. BMJ. Open 3: e002302. (8 page article)*
  • Snyder J, Crooks V, Turner L, and Johnston R. 2013. Understanding the impacts of medical tourism on health human resources in Barbados: a prospective, qualitative study of stakeholders’ perceptions. International Journal for Equity in Health. 2013; 12: 2. (11 page article)*
  • Macklin R., Shepherd L., Dreger A., Asch A., Baylis F., Brody H., Churchill L., Coleman C., Cowan E., Dolgin J., Downie J., Dresser R., Elliott C., Epright M., Feder E., Glantz L., Grodin M., Hoffman W., Hoffmaster B., Hunter D., Iltis A., Kahn J., King N., Kraft R., Kukla R., Leavitt L, Lederer S., Lemmens T., Lindemann H., Marshall M., Merz J., Miller F., Mohrmann M., Morreim H., Nass M., Nelson J., Noble J., Reis E., Reverby S., Silvers A., Sousa A., Spece R., Strong C., Swazey J., Turner L. 2013. The OHRP and SUPPORT—another view. New England Journal of Medicine. 369: e3. (Letter).
  • Sipp D, and Turner L. 2012. U.S. Regulation of Stem Cells as Medical Products. Science. 338: 1296-1297.*
  • Turner L. 2012. Beyond “medical tourism”: Canadian companies marketing medical travel. Globalization and Health. 8: 16. (11-page article with accompanying tables published as separate files).*
  • Turner L. 2012. Making Canada a Destination for Medical Tourists: Why Canadian Provinces Should Not Try to Become “Mayo Clinics of the North”. Healthcare Policy. 7: 18-25.*
  • Turner L. 2012. Canada’s turbulent medical tourism Industry. Canadian Family Physician. 58: 371-373.*
  • Turner L. 2012. News media reports of patient deaths following “medical tourism” for cosmetic surgery and bariatric surgery. Developing World Bioethics. 12: 21-34.*
  • Turner L. 2011. Canadian medical tourism companies that have exited the marketplace: Content analysis of websites used to market transnational medical travel. Globalization and Health. 7: 40: 1-16.*7
  • Crooks V, Turner L, Snyder J, Johnston R, Kingsbury P. 2011. Promoting Medical Tourism to India: Messages, Images and the Marketing of International Patient Travel. Social Science & Medicine. 72: 726-732.*
  • Turner L. 2011. Quality in health care and globalization of health services: accreditation and regulatory oversight of medical tourism companies. International Journal for Quality in Health Care. 23: 1-7.*
  • Runnels V, Turner L. 2011. Bioethics and Transnational Medical Travel: India, “Medical Tourism”, and the Globalization of Health Care. Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. 1: 42-44.*
  • Snyder J, Crooks V, Turner L. 2010. Issues and Challenges in Research on the Ethics of Medical Tourism: Reflections from a Conference. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. 8:3-6.*
  • Turner L. 2010. The Coming Backlash Against “Medical Tourism”. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 126, 6: 326-327.*
  • Turner L. 2010. “Medical tourism” and the global marketplace in health services: U.S. patients, international hospitals, and the search for affordable health care. International Journal of Health Services. 40: 443-467.*