11:35 a.m., Nov. 7, 2011–Nazi atrocities on Jewish prisoners during World War led to creation of the Nuremberg Code in 1947, but, according to research ethics expert Tom Beauchamp, the code did little to stem abuse of human subjects.
“This abnormality in German medicine was sufficiently great to gain our attention, but in terms of how American medicine regulated itself, we basically learned nothing,” said Beauchamp in an invited lecture at the University of Delaware on Thursday, Nov. 2.
Beauchamp said that the brutal research protocols of the Nazi experiments—which included protracted immersion in ice water, ingestion of poisons and exposure to viruses—could just as easily have occurred in the United States. “Anti-Semitism was rampant here, too,” he said, “but America was saved by its egalitarian spirit.”
Indeed, the U.S. had its own little shops of research horrors, including Walter Reed’s yellow fever experiments on poor Spanish immigrants and the Tuskegee syphilis studies on black men. Both of these cases, Beauchamp said, exploited vulnerable populations.