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

II. The Development of Codes of Research Ethics

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II. The Development of Codes of Research Ethics

The Nuremberg Code (1947): Voluntary consent; benefits outweigh risks; ability to withdraw

The Nuremberg Code (http://ohsr.od.nih.gov/nuremberg.php3) served as the first set of principles outlining professional ethics for medical researchers.  The Code is comprised of ten points including the statement that "voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential."  The Code also established that animal experimentation should precede human experimentation; all unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injury should be avoided; the degree of risk to participants should never exceed the "humanitarian importance of the problem" and should be minimized through "proper preparations"; and that participants should always be at liberty to withdraw from experiments.  The Code has been the model for many professional and governmental codes since the 1950s and has, in effect, served as the first international standard for the conduct of research.

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