Questionable LSD experiments lurk in bioethics icon’s background

A scathing indictment of the ethics of medical research, published 50 years ago today, sparked a firestorm of controversy in the medical community and led to an overhaul of the rules of research involving humans. The fact that it was written by a physician who led some iffy experiments with LSD makes the message more nuanced, but no less compelling.

The report, “Ethics and Clinical Research” — sometimes called Beecher’s bombshell — appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine on June 16, 1966. Its author, Dr. Henry Knowles Beecher, an acclaimed professor of anaesthesia at Harvard Medical School and department chair at Massachusetts General Hospital, accused scientists at some of the nation’s top medical schools, hospitals, and other research institutions of unethical research that could have, and sometimes did, harm research subjects, many of whom had no

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