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Invited Commentary
September 2015

Advancing Science in the Service of HumanityProfessionalism and Ethical Safeguards

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(9):1506-1508. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.3172

Is human experimentation ever ethically permissible? Are human studies always and inevitably exploitative? Since the release of the Belmont Report1 in the United States in 1979, the response to these difficult ethical questions has been that people may participate in scientific studies when the following 2 conditions have been met: the research must occur in a context of utmost trust and professionalism, and it must be conducted in a manner that wholly embodies the ethical principles of respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. When these conditions are fulfilled, the person is not used as a “means to an end” by science. Rather, a well-informed and capable person may engage with investigators, accepting freely the risks of research, in the shared pursuit of knowledge that may improve human health.2

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