Dilemmas, no-brainers, and ethical implications

By Catherine Rogers, marketing coordinator
Everyone deals differently when it comes to making tough decisions, especially when the “right” choice poses potentially dire consequences for all involved.
But for humanitarian Miep Gies, weighing future outcomes against present situations posed no ethical dilemma whatsoever: In spite of the Nazi stronghold on the Netherlands, and the atrocities they caused, Mrs. Gies and her husband Jan chose to help shelter eight Jews, including Anne Frank’s family, for two years.
With the help of some colleagues, as described in her obituary, Mrs. Gies unquestioningly provided the families with the food, supplies, and information they needed—including paper for Anne Frank, who was composing what would become a classic in the literary canon.
Sympathetic to their well-being, Mrs. Gies made their physical and emotional comfort her first priority, until her home was raided in 1944.
Though Mrs. Gies lived to see her centennial birthday, the world lost a hero with her January 11 death.
Still, the research world can—and should—look to Miep and Jan Gies as examples of what it means to protect the people it serves. The Gies’ personal ethics directly affected how their commitments fared against their assumed risks, much like the way in which researchers’ personal ethics influence their decisions. Similarly, without the Gies’ assistance, Anne Frank’s diary might never have been recovered. Just imagine the void such an absence could have created.
Research oversight is replete with opportunities to ensure ethical conduct, and it’s no small task to treat every opportunity to protect human subjects as the most important. After all, the positive contributions from any given study are unlimited.