12 Apr Belmont Report Commission reuniting for Medical College of Wisconsin Symposium
MILWAUKEE – The Medical College of Wisconsin is reuniting the commissioners, authors and consultants of the Belmont Report, a historical document that laid the ethical foundation for human research in the United States. For the first time since the report’s completion in 1979, the “Belmonters” will come together May 14 at the Medical College to discuss its enduring impact on research and celebrate its 25th anniversary.
The Belmont Commission was instigated by the Tuskegee experiments, according to Wendy Kaiser, education manager at the Medical College. The syphilis study was conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service from 1932 to 1972 on under-privileged black men and resulted in many fatalities.
“The Belmont 25th anniversary celebration and symposium will happen only once and only in Milwaukee on May 14. All of the persons still living who were involved in preparing the report will be present to look at the ethical principles presented in the report and their relevance to new ethical challenges to research with human participants,” said William R. Hendee, associate dean and vice president of the college.
“Other organizations have tried to reunite the commission but no one has been able,” said Wendy Kaiser, who organized the event. “Once a few said they’d come, it snowballed.” A personal touch and persistence was enough to spark the interest of the Belmonters, she added, but the real reason they are reuniting is to reconnect, as many have not been together since the commission.
“This group of 27 [members] worked together over four years very closely and four are deceased. Twenty-one of 23 are reuniting,” Kaiser added. “It is an incredible privilege and honor to speak with these individuals. Each could be a keynote speaker at any other conference.”
The Belmonters will discuss the report and how it was created and how its principles endure and apply in today’s changing research environment, 25 years after its completion.
The commissioners’ two-hour panel discussion will be broadcast live via the Internet at no charge. Visit the symposium’s Web site for more information.
Kristin V. Johnson is a Madison-based writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.