How Clinical Research Should Never Have Been Done: Ethical Measures for Protection and Respect

  • Cara East


There are examples of unethical clinical research not just in Nazi Germany but in the United States, in which advances in medical knowledge were gained at the expense of individual well-being and autonomy. The Nuremberg Code was developed in 1949 after the atrocities of Nazi medical research were discovered to codify the protection of human subjects and ensure voluntary consent. After the US Tuskegee Syphilis experiment came to light, the Belmont Report in 1979 delineated the three principals of respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. It also established the system of Institutional Review Boards to oversee research on a local level.


Syphilis Gonorrhea Hepatitis A Nuremberg Code Belmont Report Autonomy Beneficence Voluntary consent 


  1. 1.
    Spettel S, White MD. The portrayal of J Marion Sims controversial surgical legacy. J Urol. 2011;185:2424–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Berger RL. Nazi science–the Dachau hypothermia experiments. N Engl J Med. 1990;322(20):1435–40.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Mitscherlich A, Mielke F, Norden H. Doctors of infamy: the story of the Nazi medical crimes. In: The Nuremberg Code (1947). New York: Schuman; 1949.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    James J. Bad blood: the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. New York: Free Press; 1981. ISBN 0-02-916676-4.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Office of the Press Secretary. Remarks by the President in asn apology for study done in Tuskegee. The White House. May 16, 1997. https://clintonwhitehouse 4.
  6. 6.
    Smiths. Wellsley professor unearths a horror: Syphilis experiments in Guatemala. Boston Globe Oct 2, 2010.
  7. 7.
    Centers For Disease Control. Finding from a CDA report on the 1946-48 U.S. Public Health Service Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Inoculation Study. Sept 30, 2010. inoculation study/findings.html.
  8. 8.
    McNeil DG Jr. U.S. apologizes for syphilis tests in Guatemala. The New York Times. Oct 2, 2010.
  9. 9.
    Krug S. The Willowbrook hepatitis studies revisited: Ethical aspects. Review of Infx Diseases 1986;8(1):157–62.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Rivera G. Willowbrook: a report on how it is and why it doesn’t have to be that way. New York: Random House; 1972. ISBN 0-394-71844-5.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research, Department of Health, Education and Welfare (DHEW). The Belmont report. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office; 1978.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cara East
    • 1
  1. 1.Baylor Soltero CV ResearchBaylor University Medical CenterDallasUSA

Personalised recommendations