Examine the history of research on human subjects at next Public Affairs Discussion Group

Sue Rivera CWRU
Suzanne Rivera

The history of human subjects research protocols goes back at least to 1900, when Walter Reed had volunteers sign permission forms for his yellow fever research in Cuba. A series of studies that became public in the 1960s led to new Public Health Service informed-consent procedures. Yet this was not enough to prevent outrage when, in 1972, the New York Times revealed the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Congress then passed the National Research Act, which led to the regulations under which Institutional Review Boards in each institution now review faculty and student research.

All of this seems reasonable in principle. But it can lead to puzzling interpretations, from the researcher’s perspective, for social science research. Are politicians, for example, “human subjects” who need protection from the harm that might be done to them by researchers who ask them questions? If so, why is journalism allowed to proceed without similar regulation?

Join the Public Affairs Discussion Group on Friday, Nov. 14, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to discuss these questions. Suzanne Rivera, vice president for research and assistant professor of bioethics, will lead the talk, “Perspectives on Human Subjects Research Requirements” in Kelvin Smith Library room LL06 B and C. Please note: This is an alternate location for the group’s normal meeting place.

Since 1989, faculty, emeriti, students and staff have gathered on Fridays for a brown-bag lunch and to discuss topics in public affairs.

For updates and more information about the Friday lunch schedule, visit fridaylunch.case.edu.