Week 4 PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND NOBEL PRIZE DISCUSSIONS.docx

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BIOL 100-01 PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS AND NOBEL PRIZE DISCUSSIONS Professional Standards Discussion Professional standards in science have improved drastically over the past century. This is seen explicitly in the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Specifically in chapter 17, where Skloot described Chester Southam’s experiment on human test subjects, and the professional standards such as informed consent, approval by an IRB, and HIPPA restrictions. Furthermore, the creations of the IACUC and FERPA also moved forward professional standards in the research and student scope respectively. Informed consent is the process in which a competent individual, after being educated on the procedure/treatment, gives their voluntary approval for the procedure/treatment to proceed. In the experiment conducted by Chester Southam, the test subjects were prisoners, which are a vulnerable population with a hindrance on their ability to give informed consent. An International Review Board (IRB) is a FDA registered group of at least five members of varying areas of expertise that reviews and decides whether to approve or decline research that contains human as test subjects. In Chester Southam’s experiment where HeLa cells were injected into human subjects, there lacked an IRB to allow/deny his research. Later in the same chapter, Skloot describes that the NIH, as a result of the investigation on Southam’s research, said that “to qualify for funding, all proposals for research on human subjects had to be approved by review boards” (Page 135). Furthermore, as stated by an article on Northeastern’s University website, “Performing research with human subjects without prior IRB approval is unethical, illegal, and may jeopardize the rights and welfare of participants in research”. The difference between IRBs from the events in the book and in the modern day is that approval from an IRB was only required if one was funded by/contracted with the NIH, while in the modern day research involving human subjects without an IRB review is unethical and illegal. Before IRBs were required, the process was much quicker, both in terms of amount of effort and efficiency, while the outcome had the possibility of being unethical, due to the risk to the human subjects’ safeties. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) is “legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information”. (techtarget.com). During the time frame of the Southam experiment in the book, this act had not been passed, so much of modern protocols that protect medical information was not in place at that time. One example of this is

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