Historical perspectives and their significant impact on the development of ethical standards governing research using human participants

The Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital Study (1963)

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The Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital Study (1963)

In 1963, studies were undertaken at New York's Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital to understand whether the body's inability to reject cancer cells was due to cancer or debilitation.  Previous studies had indicated that healthy persons reject cancer cells promptly, and the researchers allegedly believed that the debilitated patients would also reject the cancers but at a substantially slower rate when compared to healthy participants.

These studies involved the injection of foreign, live cancer cells into 22 senile patients who were hospitalized with various chronic debilitating diseases.  Patients were not told that they would receive cancer cells because the researchers felt it would unnecessarily frighten them.  Researchers defended this view with the assertion that they had good cause to predict that the cancer cells were going to be rejected.

In subsequent review proceedings conducted by the Board of Regents of the State University of New York, it was found that the study had not been presented to the hospital's research committee and that the physicians responsible for the patients' care had not been consulted.  The researchers were found guilty of fraud, deceit, and unprofessional conduct.

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