Report calls for improved protection in human research
The U.S. provides adequate protection for human volunteers in federally sponsored research projects but further steps can be taken to improve the process, according to a review of research standards released by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. For instance, federal departments and agencies should work to increase transparency by developing a governmentwide, unified database of information, the commission said in the report. Human subjects who are injured while participating in research studies should also not have to pay for their own treatment, the commission said, adding that “most other developed nations have instituted policies to require researchers or sponsors to provide treatment, or compensation for treatment, for injuries suffered by research subjects.” The report was prompted by evidence that surfaced in 2010 showing that the U.S. Public Health Service had supported research that intentionally exposed “thousands of Guatemalans to sexually transmitted diseases without their consent,” according to a news release from the commission. “The commission is confident that what happened in Guatemala in the 1940s could not happen today,” Amy Gutmann, commission chair, said in the release. “However, it is also clear that improvements can be made to protect human subjects going forward.”
The report calls for a unified database of human research information.