Chicago - 12:00 PM - 12:45 PM
Dangerous Medicine: Militarized Science And America s Experiments With Hepatitis, Part II
Sydney A. Halpern, PhD
Lecturer, Medical Humanities & Bioethics
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
For over thirty years, 1942 through 1974, American researchers conducted experiments that deliberately infected people with unmodified hepatitis viruses. The aim was to discover basic features of the pathogens, information necessary for developing preventive and therapeutic measures. The human subjects included mental patients, persons with cognitive impairments, conscientious objectors to the military draft, and inmates of prisons and reformatories. This talk presents major finding from a forthcoming book based on extensive archival research. It retells the story of human-subjects abuses in the U.S.
This talk, the second in a two-part series, examines struggles over depictions of the human subject in risk-laden medical research. The biomedical-military elite won widespread acceptance for hepatitis-infection experiments by portraying subjects as either the recipients of medical beneficence or else as freely choosing to participate for the purpose of enhancing the common good. But with rise of rights movements in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, scientists and their sponsors lost both control over the dominant discourse about human subjects and access to the residents of custodial institutions.