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November 12, 2008

Human Oocyte ResearchThe Ethics of Donation and Donor Protection

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Program in Reproductive and Adult Endocrinology, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Maryland.

JAMA. 2008;300(18):2174-2176. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.601

Questions of ethical research conduct have particular relevance for investigation using human reproductive materials. In recent years, few undertakings have generated as much controversy as donating oocytes for research. Placing this research in the context of ethical principles offers assistance in resolving ethical concerns regarding this work.

The Belmont Report provided an ethical framework for “human subjects” investigation, thereby delineating bounds between clinical practice and research.1 Expanding on these principles, several requisites for ethical clinical research conduct have been proposed that include assessing the investigation's value, providing informed consent, establishing a favorable risk-benefit ratio, and ensuring fair participant selection.2 Ethical research conduct necessitates adherence to these principles, and research involving donated oocytes significantly challenges this effort, particularly as it relates to protecting donors from detrimental physical and psychological effects and to providing fair and equitable compensation to donors for their research participation.

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