Friday, October 1, 2010

U.S. Apologizes for 1940s Human Subjects Research

This is a little off topic for the blog, but today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apologized to Guatemala for experiments done there in the late 1940s. Researchers led by a Public Health Service doctor conducted various studies of syphilis, some of which included the deliberate infection of people without their consent.

The story was brought to light by Susan M. Reverby, Marion Butler McLean Professor in the History of Ideas and Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Wellesley College. Her article, "''Normal Exposure' and Inoculation Syphilis: A PHS 'Tuskegee' Doctor in Guatemala, 1946-48, will appear in the Journal of Policy History in 2011, in a special issue on human subjects research that I edited.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a more complete story, including a nice mention of the Journal of Policy History.

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