How to ethically conduct clinical research during public health emergencies

May 21, 2018

Following the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine established a committee to assess the clinical trials conducted in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. In a report entitled "Integrating Clinical Research into Epidemic Response: The Ebola Experience" the committee outlined ways to facilitate rapid, well-coordinated responses to future public health emergencies.

Carnegie Mellon University's Alex John London, a prominent bioethicist, served on the National Academies committee and has co-authored a viewpoint article in PLOS: Neglected Tropical Diseases on the ethics of clinical research during public health emergencies.

"The latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a tragic reminder that public health emergencies are often unpredictable, complex situations. It is critical that stakeholders recognize the lessons that we have learned from the 2014-2015 outbreak," said London, the Clara L. West Professor of Ethics and Philosophy in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The paper describes the committee's key findings and conclusions, including:
-end-
In addition to London, Nigeria's Institute of Child Health's Olayemi O. Omotade, Stanford University's Michelle M. Mello and Boston University's Gerald T. Keusch wrote the PLOS article.

Carnegie Mellon University

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