Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Human Guinea Pigs

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 03 December 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5114
  1. Martin Eastwood, retired consultant gastroenterologist, North Queensferry, Fife
  1. majeastwood{at}

    The 19th century physician in England was a comfortable gentleman, educated in the classics and well versed in medical practices unchallenged since Greek and Roman times. In the early 20th century a few talented doctors saw the need for science in effective clinical practice. This knowledge was to be obtained by experiments on human subjects. They were full of zeal; and because of their intellect and prowess and the sheer excitement of their findings they were in turn unchallenged. Until, that is, Maurice Pappworth in London and Henry Beecher of Harvard University looked …

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