Op-Ed

Comedic cartoon of a giant laboratory scientist holding a microscope and lasso. He stands above grayed human figures who are in a lined formation passing through his giant legs.

A great deal of scientific research – especially in medicine – relies on human subjects. Protecting volunteers has been a prominent social and legal issue since the 1950s, when the world recoiled from the horrors of Nazi medicine.

We have come a long way since then, but it pays to remember that the Nazis did not have a monopoly on atrocities committed in the name of science. One of the worst cases of human subject abuse was perpetrated by American scientists who, between 1932 and 1972, misled hundreds of black people with syphilis in Tuskegee, Alabama, by deliberately leaving them untreated to enable researchers to study the progression of the disease.

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