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Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2004 Jun;14(2):143-64.

Oversight of research involving the dead.

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West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA.


Research involving the dead, especially heart-beating cadavers, may facilitate the testing of potentially revolutionary and life-saving medical treatments. However, to ensure that such research is conducted ethically, it is essential to: (1) identify appropriate standards for this research and (2) assign institutional responsibility and a mechanism for oversight. Protocols for research involving the dead should be reviewed by a special committee and assessed according to nine standards intended to ensure scientific merit, to protect deceased patients and their families, and to promote institutional integrity and responsibility. Federal regulation of research involving the dead will foster appropriate standards and, equally importantly, help establish the acceptability of such research.

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