Guatemala Study - 8 OCTOBER 2010 VOL 330 SCIENCE...

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Unformatted text preview: 8 OCTOBER 2010 VOL 330 SCIENCE 160 NEWS OF THE WEEK CREDIT: COURTESY OF WELLESLEY COLLEGE After making a public apology, the United States this week is launching two inquiries into a stunningly unethical U.S. medical study that was conducted in Guatemala 64 years ago. The research—funded from 1946 to 1948 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—infected hundreds of Guatemalan prisoners, soldiers, and mental health patients with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases. Its aim was to track the course of infection and test new preventive treatments. But the doctors who ran it for the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) never published results. The work was “clearly unethical,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a joint statement of regret on 1 October: “We are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health.” In a telephone press conference, NIH Director Francis Collins also deplored this “appalling example” from “a dark chapter in the history of medicine.” NIH plans to fund a “fact- fi nding investigation” into what happened in Guatemala, run by the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine. At the same time, the U.S. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues is putting together a group of international experts, Collins said, “to ensure that all human medical research conducted around the globe today meets rig-...
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