ACN - 101321555 Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Resource Library

Research Ethics MonthlyAbout Us

ResourcesResearch Misconduct

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Administering Colonial Science: Nutrition Research and Human Biomedical Experimentation in Aboriginal Communities and Residential Schools, 1942-1952 (Papers: Ian Mosvy | 2013)0

Posted by Admin in on May 13, 2018

Between 1942 and 1952, some of Canada’s leading nutrition experts, in cooperation with various federal departments, conducted an unprecedented series of nutritional studies of Aboriginal communities and residential schools. The most ambitious and perhaps best known of these was the 1947-1948 James Bay Survey of the Attawapiskat and Rupert’s House Cree First Nations. Less well known were two separate long-term studies that went so far as to include controlled experiments conducted, apparently without the subjects’ informed consent or knowledge, on malnourished Aboriginal populations in Northern Manitoba and, later, in six Indian residential schools. This article explores these studies and experiments, in part to provide a narrative record of a largely unexamined episode of exploitation and neglect by the Canadian government. At the same time, it situates these studies within the context of broader federal policies governing the lives of Aboriginal peoples, a shifting Canadian consensus concerning the science of nutrition, and changing attitudes towards the ethics of biomedical experimentation on human beings during a period that encompassed, among other things, the establishment of the Nuremberg Code of experimental research ethics.

This paper relates to the shocking news report we posted yesterday (13/05/2018) about a class action in response to this research.

IN MARCH 1942, and after months of planning, a group of scientific and medical researchers travelled by bush plane and dog sled to the Cree communities of Norway House, Cross Lake, God’s Lake Mine, Rossville, and The Pas in Northern Manitoba. The trip was jointly sponsored by Indian Affairs, the New York-based Milbank Memorial Fund, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Hudson’s Bay Company but had been spearheaded by Indian Affairs Branch Superintendent of Medical Services Dr. Percy Moore and RCAF Wing Commander Dr. Frederick Tisdall – Canada’s leading nutrition expert and the co-inventor of the infant food Pablum. The goal was to “study the state of nutrition of the Indian by newly developed medical procedures,” which meant that – in addition to collecting information on local subsistence patterns – the research team conducted detailed physical examinations, blood tests, and x-rays on nearly 400 Aboriginal residents of these communities.1 But even before they began to administer their battery of medical tests, the researchers were immediately struck by the frightening toll that malnutrition and hunger appeared to be taking. At both Norway House and Cross Lake, they reported that, “while most of the people were going about trying to make a living, they were really sick enough to be in bed under treatment and that if they were white people, they would be in bed and demanding care and medical attention.” Following a visit to the homes of some of the elderly residents of Norway House at the request of the Chief and Council, moreover, researchers found that “conditions were deplorable where the old people were almost starved and were plainly not get- ting enough food to enable them to much more than keep alive.”

Mosby, I. (2013) “Administering Colonial Science: Nutrition Research and Human Biomedical Experimentation in Aboriginal Communities and Residential Schools, 1942-1952” Histoire sociale/Social History XLVI, 91 (Mai/May 2013), 615-642. Publisher (Open Access):

Canada sued over years of alleged experimentation on indigenous people – The Guardian (Ashifa Kassam | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on May 12, 2018

Class-action suit filed on behalf of thousands of people allegedly subjected to medical tests without consent in the mid-20th century

A class action lawsuit has been filed in a Canadian court on behalf of the thousands of indigenous people alleged to have been unwittingly subjected to medical experiments without their consent.

We will be following this case with revulsion. Were the allegations to be proven it wouldn’t only be an opportunity for justice, reconciliation and healing in Canada it will also probably prompt serious consideration for First Peoples around the world

Filed this month in a courtroom in the province of Saskatchewan, the lawsuit holds the federal government responsible for experiments allegedly carried out on reserves and in residential schools between the 1930s and 1950s.
The suit also accuses the Canadian government of a long history of “discriminatory and inadequate medical care” at Indian hospitals and sanatoriums – key components of a segregated healthcare system that operated across the country from 1945 into the early 1980s.
“This strikes me as so atrocious that there ought to be punitive and exemplary damages awarded, in addition to compensation,” said Tony Merchant, whose Merchant Law Group filed the class action.

Read the rest of this discussion piece

(Queensland, Australian case) Fishy research opens a can of worms – THE (John Ross | March 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on May 12, 2018

An expanding research misconduct investigation has stretched its net from the chilly Baltic to an idyllic Queensland island and the grasslands of Saskatchewan

It is the hedgehog of the reef: a tropical fish whose quill-like fin spines inflict a painful sting. Now the zebra lionfish has become embroiled in an expanding research misconduct investigation that stretches from a Queensland island to the chilly Baltic and the grasslands of Saskatchewan.

The journal Biology Letters has issued an expression of concern about a 2014 research paper that claimed that the colourful creatures hunted cooperatively with each other and with other lionfish species – behaviour previously documented among marine mammals such as killer whales and bottlenose dolphins but never demonstrated in fish.

“It has been brought to the attention of the editorial team that there are concerns regarding the validity of data used in the study,” the journal notice says.

Read the rest of this discussion piece


Controversial Australian science journalist admits to duplication in her PhD thesis – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | May 2018)0

Posted by Admin in on May 9, 2018

A prominent (yet controversial) journalist in Australia has admitted to duplicating three images that were part of her PhD thesis — a practice outside experts agreed was acceptable, if not ideal, at the time, according to a report released today.

Stories like this raise the question: Should data/research materials retention requirements be extended?

As part of an inquiry, the University of Adelaide convened an expert panel to investigate 17 allegations of duplication and/or manipulation in Maryanne Demasi’s 2004 thesis. Duplication is a common reason for retractions, such as when researchers use the same image to depict the results of different experiments.
After earning her PhD in rheumatology, Demasi became a journalist who got headlines for more than just her reporting. In 2013, she produced a controversial series about cholesterol and fat (which suggested they have been unfairly villainized, and which cast doubt on cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins). A few years later, Demasi was fired from the science program Catalyst, after it aired an episode alleging wi-fi could cause brain tumors.

Read the rest of this discussion piece