Example: Persons with
Experimental Drug X
Research Ethics 1
Scientific Research – Some Historical Cases (Munson Book)
Nuremberg (WWII – Nazi Germany)
– cruel and barbaric experiments conducted on Jews in
Nuremberg Germany -- 1947, the physicians who conducted these experiments were convicted by
an international tribunal, for taking part “in medical experiments without the subjects’ consent”.
Out of this trial came the Nuremberg Code, which specifies strict guidelines for informed consent.
-Additional piece of historical information: Pernkopf Anatomy: were the cadavers of Nazi
war victims used to gain anatomical information about the human body, and should the book
containing such information be prohibited from being used, because of the way in which the
information was obtained? (p 40-41 Munson)
Is it legitimate to use scientific data that has
been obtained in an immoral way, if it benefits people?
Cases all during Nuremberg trial and Post-Nuremburg:
Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment – 1942-1972 – Tuskegee Institute, Macon County, Alabama –
another case concerning informed consent, involving cruel treatment of African American
Cold-War Radiation Experiments – host of experiments conducted from 1940 – 1974 to test the
biological effects of high doses of radiation, to determine 1.) the effect of radiation on fetal
development, sperm production, and nutrition and metabolism as well as the 2.) the rate at which
radioactive substances are absorbed by the body.
Again, no informed consent, women and
children were vulnerable populations affected.
Willowbrook Hepatitis Experiments – deliberate infection of mentally retarded children at
Willowbrook State School in Staten Island with viral hepatitis in order to study the course of the
Parents did not provide informed consent.
Children were the vulnerable population
II. Recent Medical Research
First Face Transplant Surgery (2005)
: 38-year old Woman, Isabelle Denoire, a woman who
passed out in an attempt to commit suicide by overdose, was badly disfigured by a dog who
ripped off part of her face (lips, nose, chin). She had to wear a face mask and she had trouble
eating. Dr. Bernard Devauchelle, who had preformed the first hand transplant some years
prior took her to be an excellent candidate for a partial face transplant. The surgery was
incredibly risky—first, it is an intricate procedure to connect the nerve and musculature of
new skin to the remaining skin. Second, the possibility of the body rejecting the new skin as
“foreign” required that Denoire take a battery of immuno-suppressive drugs for the rest of her
life that may increase her chances of getting cancer. (She also had to have bone marrow
injections from the donor). Furthermore, the new face would not look like her old face or the
face of the dead woman whose face she received. In addition the Dr. would receive fame for