The Evolution of Vulnerability – The Ethics of Equitable Subject Selection

SOCRA 2019 Annual Conference

Quincy Byrdsong, EdD, CCRP, CIP Executive Director for Research Administration WellStar Research Institute

In April of 1979, the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research published the Belmont Report. The Report summarized ethical principles and guidelines for research involving human subjects. Three core principles were identified: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice. While all three principles consider the rights of the research subjects, the justice principle focused primarily on subject selection. The spirit of the justice principle describes the protection of subjects vulnerable to unethical research. However, vulnerability in 1979 is markedly different from vulnerability today. This talk will chronicle the history of vulnerability in human subjects research and compare and contrast how this vulnerability is now manifested in today’s research environment.