Chapter  7: Human Experimentation

Section 5. Case Study

NAME: Anne Green

CASE TITLE: Human subject testing at Holmesburg Prison, Holmesburg, PA

DESCRIPTION of the case: Between 1951 and 1974, various experiments were performed on inmates at the Holmesburg Prison in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania. A significant number of the Holmesburg Prison experiments were dermatologic, involving the benign use of commercial cosmetics and toiletries. However, others entailed hair transplants, implantation of foreign bodies, burns and radiation of the skin, exposure to dioxin, application and ingestion of toxic, near lethal doses of retinoin A, inoculation of Staphylococcus aureus, and the yanking out of fingernails.. And even though they consented to the experiments and were given some financial compensation, they now say that the long-term effects and suffering were never part of the bargain.


URLs for the Articles Describing case:


URLs for Articles with Ethical Position: Philosophers, Theologians, Lawyers, Medical Doctors


American Medical Association:

University of Pennsylvania History Review (professor of Dermatology and lead researcher, Dr. Kligman, taught here)

Philosopher and Medical Ethicist:

Universal Life Church:




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Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2002. All Rights reserved.

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