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Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 1996 Sep;6(3):223-37.

Revising the history of Cold War research ethics.


President Clinton's charge to the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments included the identification of ethical and legal standards for evaluating government-sponsored radiation experiments conducted during the Cold War. In this paper, we review the traditional account of the history of American research ethics, and then highlight and explain the significance of a number of the Committee's historical findings as they relate to this account. These findings include both the national defense establishment's struggles with legal and insurance issues concerning human experiments, and the medical profession's perspective on human experimentation in the years following the Nuremberg Medical Trials. We conclude that the Committee's work both enriches the traditional view of the history of research ethics and opens important new areas for study.

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