January 27, 2011
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has appointed Georgia State University Law Professor Paul A. Lombardo as a senior advisor. The 13-member commission is charged with advising President Obama on the bioethical, legal and social issues that arise in the context of biomedicine and related areas of science and technology.
Lombardo, who is trained as an historian as well as a lawyer, has written extensively on bioethical issues, and is often tapped for his expertise on the historical development of rules for the ethical conduct of research. He has written in detail about the infamous Public Health Service Tuskegee syphilis study (1932-1972), which created a scandal that led to existing American law regulating the participation of human subjects in biomedical and behavioral research.
The Commission meets next in late February to respond to President Obama’s request for "a thorough fact-finding investigation" into the details of the U.S. Public Health Service study of sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala.
Lombardo will serve in a part-time staff capacity in support of the Commission’s investigation. "At a time when ethical questions about the conduct of international medical research are in the headlines, I feel very fortunate to be able to contribute to the Commission’s work," said Lombardo.
Details of the Guatemala study-including the intentional inoculation of prisoners and mental patients with syphilis-- came to light late in 2010, following research revelations by Wellesley University Professor of History Susan Reverby. Lombardo joins University of Pennsylvania bioethicist Jonathan Moreno and Johns Hopkins University physician Jeremy Sugarman as the third senior staff advisor to the President’s Commission.
For more information on the President’s Bioethics Commission, see http://www.bioethics.gov/. For information on the President’s charge to the Commission regarding the Guatemala study, see http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/11/24/presidential-memorandum-review-human-subjects-protection.