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Institutional Racism as an ongoing bioethical issue

Ended Feb 16, 2022
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Full course description

Term: Spring 2022

Date: February 16th, 2022

Time: 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Location: Online Only

Instructor: Kory Trott

Presented By: Scholarly Integrity and Research Compliance (SIRC) & and the Department of Science, Technology and Society



This presentation describes an episode of serious research misconduct in a U.S. burn hospital serving Latin American children with high percentages of total body burns.  Conducted by senior faculty at a southern Academic Medical Center, the research was coercive, exploitative, abusive, and potentially life-threatening in scope. The  vast majority of the children involved were from poor families and were visiting the U.S. on temporary visas. Despite the many red flags in this case, and contrary to the requirements outlined in established bioethics frameworks, the IRB did not intervene to stop the study. This article asks how such egregious violations could have happened in the twenty-first century at an established medical hospital and why the governing body in charge of research oversight failed to act? I argue that this episode is indicative of the ongoing race problem inherent in bioethics frameworks and is therefore an expected, rather than surprising, example of institutional racism.

Presenter: Rebecca Hester is an assistant professor in the Department of Science, Technology and Society and the associate director of education in the Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies. Her research focuses on race, health, migration, security and ethics. She has taught at several medical schools, including Stanford and the University of Texas Medical Branch, and has written several articles on cultural competency and co-authored several publications on medical ethics in prison settings. Her forthcoming book, Embodied politics: Indigenous migrant activism, cultural competence, and health promotion in California, examines the complexities of health programming in migrant communities.