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Seminar Series – Can the Researcher-Participant Relationship Ground Ancillary-Care Obligations?

Monday, Apr 13, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
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Can the Researcher-Participant Relationship Ground Ancillary-Care Obligations?
Henry Richardson, JD, MPP, PhD

Join us online to hear and participate in the seminar: https://jh.zoom.us/j/994081380

The partial-entrustment model of medical researchers’ ancillary-care obligations has been criticized as supporting too narrow a set of obligations.  Nathaniel Olson and Thaddeus Metz have each recently put forward a sophisticated, relationship-based account that aims for broader coverage.  After critically examining these accounts, Richardson will argue that the partial-entrustment model offers a better relationship-based account.

Dr. Richardson is Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University and Senior Research Scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics. In the past decade, he has twice been a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health and has participated in two research-ethics training courses organized by that department: one in Kampala, Uganda, and one in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Since July, 2008, he has been the Editor of Ethics. In 2010, he was appointed by the Director General of UNESCO as a member of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), on which he served until 2013 (2011-13 as the rapporteur). He also served as president of the Human Development and Capability Association until 2016. He also leads the International Panel on Social Progress, a group designed to outline the basic principles and values on the basis of which social progress ought to be assessed.

Some of his most recent work focuses on the following issue: When medical researchers discover a disease or medical condition in one of their research participants, care for which is no part of their research effort, what responsibility, if any, do they have to care for this disease or condition? For example, do malaria researchers have a responsibility to deal with the schistosomiasis they find in their subjects? Do HIV-vaccine researchers have an obligation to provide post-trial access to anti-retrovirals for those who become HIV-positive during the trial?

This question of researchers’ ancillary-care responsibilities had been almost entirely neglected in the research-ethics literature, until in 2004, Dr. Richardson published (with Leah Belsky) two pioneering articles on the topic, arguing that the informed-consent process effectively entrusts certain aspects of the participants’ health into the researchers’ care. In 2006, with support from the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, he organized a symposium on ancillary-care obligations in developing countries, which led to further work on the topic. In 2012, he published a book on the topic: Moral Entanglements: The Ancillary-Care Obligations of Medical Researchers (Oxford University Press), which refines and defends the philosophical basis of what he calls the “partial-entrustment” model of ancillary-care obligations.