A post by Pat
No, not at airports.
It has recently come to President Obama’s attention that unethical research took place from 1946 to 1948 and we must be sure it doesn’t happen again. Back then the U.S. Health Department engaged in research in a Guatemalan mental hospital, infecting human subjects with syphilis. Obama, not wanting to put off dealing with a tough issue of immediate concern, has asked Dr. Amy Gutmann—Chair, Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues—to form a panel to review federal regulations and standards with respect to participants in scientific studies. The Commission is instructed to consult with international experts, especially Guatemalans, and hold at least one meeting outside the U.S. Very attentive to detail is our President.
Recently, we discovered that the U.S. Public Health Service conducted research on sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 involving the intentional infection of vulnerable human populations. The research was clearly unethical. In light of this revelation, I want to be assured that current rules for research participants protect people from harm or unethical treatment, domestically as well as internationally.
I ask you, as the Chair of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, to convene a panel to conduct, beginning in January 2011, a thorough review of human subjects protection to determine if Federal regulations and international standards adequately guard the health and well-being of participants in scientific studies supported by the Federal Government. I also request that the Commission oversee a thorough fact-finding investigation into the specifics of the U.S. Public Health Service Sexually Transmitted Diseases Inoculation Study.
The commission has nine months to complete the report. Have to be thorough. On the other hand, no hurry on the health risks of illegal immigrants coming into the country with infectious diseases or rogue states acquiring nuclear weapons. We must above all else be sure our mad scientists aren’t concocting malevolent experiments in their foggy castles. We owe it to Guatemala.