Moral Science: Protecting Participants in
Human Subjects Research
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has issued its report concerning federally-sponsored research involving human volunteers, concluding that current rules and regulations provide adequate safeguards to mitigate risk. In its report, “Moral Science: Protecting Participants in Human Subjects Research," the Commission also recommended 14 changes to current practices to better protect research subjects, and called on the federal government to improve its tracking of research programs supported with taxpayer dollars.
President Obama requested that the Commission undertake an assessment of research standards following the October 2010 revelation that the U.S. Public Health Service supported unethical research in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948 that involved intentionally exposing thousands of Guatemalans to sexually transmitted diseases without their consent. The President gave the Bioethics Commission two assignments: to oversee a thorough fact-finding investigation into the specifics of the studies (released September 13, 2011); and to assure that current rules for research participants protect people from harm or unethical treatment, domestically as well as internationally.