The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 3rd, 2014
When I. Glenn Cohen, a professor at Harvard Law School and director
of a bioethics center there, helped to organize a conference in 2012
about the future of research on human subjects, he says he worried about
being "late to the party."
In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services had floated some ideas
for changes in the rules governing such research. The aim was both to
better protect the subjects and to reduce the much-resented bureaucratic
burden on professors and university staff members.
Mr. Cohen needn’t have worried about tardiness. Today, more than two
years after the conference, the regulations remain just where they were
in 2011: still under development.
Human-subjects rules are designed to prevent such horrors as the
Nazis’ medical experiments as well as homegrown examples of abuse, such
as the Tuskegee studies, in which black men with syphilis were falsely
told they were receiving treatment. The revelation, in 1972, of that
research, in particular, led to a requirement that grants from the U.S.
Public Health Service for research on human subjects receive close