Research Ethics Blog

Obama Announces Massive Review of Research Ethics in the US

In a New York Times story yesterday, it was revealed that President Obama is ordering a massive review of bioethics in the US. Here’s the story: U.S. Orders Vast Review of Bioethics

“His action is a response to the revelation this year that American scientists intentionally infected people at a Guatemalan mental hospital with syphilis in the 1940s. In a memorandum released by the White House, Mr. Obama announced a review of federal and international standards to guard the health and well-being of research participants, known as human subjects. He also ordered a fresh inquiry into what happened in the widely condemned experiment in Guatemala….”

From this brief story, it appears that his greatest concern is, in fact, research ethics and the regulations, rules and standards that are in place in the US (and internationally) to protect human participants. While there are significant variations among national standards for the ethical conduct of research, many countries have used US standards as guidelines in creating or amending their own sets of regulations and standards. Furthermore, there are many international researchers who are involved in multi-centre projects or have links to researchers and research institutions in the US. Therefore, a major overhaul of US research ethics standards (if that is the result of this review) would have far-reaching implications.

We’ll continue to watch this story and keep you updated.