Humanity in Scientific Research

-“Human subjects are not objects for researchers to be handled as they desire”

Between 20 November 1945 and 1 October 1946, notable trials were held at Nuremberg, Germany. Among the trials involving German army personnel, the “Doctor’s trial” had a significant impact on the future of scientific research. It was an eye opener for the scientific world of the cruelties and the unethical nature of human experimentation. In this article we will be discussing the immoral nature of human experimentations, the need for a code of ethics for researches involving human subjects, and the practical implementations of these ethical guidelines in scientific research.

Among the inhumanities of World War II, crimes against humanity (i.e. torturing, murders, and other heinous acts) in the name of medical science was a major atrocity of the German troops. During World War II, Jews, Poles, and Russians were tortured, killed, and treated in concentration camps as if they were animals. These people were exploited in human experimentation without their consent. As a result, developing a code of ethics for research activity was essential for preventing these types of misconduct. The Nuremberg Code was designed to address these issues by emphasizing the need of participant consent in research, limiting physical or mental suffering in experiment, and improving professionalism in the field. Following the footsteps of the Nuremberg Code, Declaration of Helsinki, and the Belmont Report further reinforced the medical ethics and basic human rights in research. The four essential concepts of ethics which are being emphasized are autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice.

Despite the fact that we are in the 21st century and the misuses, cruelties and the abuses of human experimentation have been recorded throughout the history, the basic ethical precepts continue to be violated. Medical ethics in research are vital for encourage and assure respect for all human subjects and preserve their health and rights. Whereas the fundamental objective of medical research is to acquire new information, this goal must never take priority over individual study participants’ rights and interests. Every experiment or research must be ethically justifiable and follow the norms of ethics without any exceptions. The participant of a study must have the sole authority for accessing every detail of the study and have the right to refuse to participate. The coercion to participate through incentive should be discouraged.

“A research must contribute to the existing knowledge and broaden the above and beyond of human understanding but must follow the rules of the game”


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