Articles and Commentary

Max Planck Institute Desires to Take Moral Responsibility for Its Unethical Research

Posted by Sheldon Rubenfeld on January 5, 2017

Summarizing a significant development in human subjects research, Science reported today that the Max Planck Institute, known as the The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute during the Third Reich, appears willing to take responsibility for its unethical research on victims of the Nazi euthanasia programs.

The Institute will shortly open its archives to four independent researchers, Volker Roelcke, Paul Weindling, Gerrit Hohendorf, and Patricia Heberer, who will “scour its archives and tissue sample collections for material related to the euthanasia program.”

Researchers had uncovered evidence of the unethical research over the past 35 years that resulted in an apology from the Max Planck Institute in 2001 to victims of the euthanasia program. Nonetheless, it appeared that the investigation would remain unfinished until the grim discovery in 2015 of new brain specimens from victims of Nazi euthanasia programs prompted this three-year commitment from the Institute to search for “any remaining specimens and link them to clinical records” from the Nazi era.

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