Research Ethics Roundup: Pregnant Women and Zika Vaccine Research, National LGBTQ Health Study Launches, New Mouse Study on Sexual Dimorphism, “The Bioethics of Remembrance”

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup looks at why researchers are not enrolling pregnant women in the early phases of Zika vaccine research, a new LGBTQ study that seeks to address participants’ health concerns, a new study that shows the sex of a mouse affects certain traits, and Dr. Susan Reverby’s case for making changes to a monument that fails to note how a prominent gynecologist used slaves in his experiments.

zika vaccine

Pregnant Women Absent from Zika Vaccine Trials

Aggie Mika reports for The Scientist that many of the current Phase I safety trials for Zika vaccines are not enrolling pregnant women; experts believe that, even if a vaccine advances through late-phase trials, pregnant women would only be enrolled in Phase 4, post-market trials. The director of the clinical studies unit in the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told the publication: “We always have to test these things in a healthy population before we put pregnant mothers and their fetuses at risk.”

We Don’t Know Nearly Enough About LGBTQ Health. A Massive New Study May Change That.

In this Slate article, Daniel Summers discusses the launch of a University of California, San Francisco’s PRIDE study that is currently enrolling American gender and sexual minorities who are at least 18 years of age. Researchers believe that such a large-scale, long-term study may identify new areas of concern; for example, whether living in a certain part of the country is tied to more significant health problems. The researchers are relying on a participant advisory committee to ensure that they focus on topics that are meaningful and relevant for the LGBTQ community.

A Major Blind Spot in Animal Testing is Endangering the Lives of WomenA Major Blind Spot in Animal Testing is Endangering the Lives of Women

In this Quartz article, JR Thorp discusses a new Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute study in Nature Communications that looks at how the sex of an animal model affects biomedical studies. The researchers found genetic traits in mice varied depending on the sex of the animal and Thorp argues that the implications of the new study are huge given the number of mice used in research.

This Doctor Experimented on Slaves: It’s Time to Remove or Redo His Statue

In this Hastings Center piece, Dr. Susan M. Reverby makes the case for rethinking the placement of a New York City statue of Dr. J. Marion Sims, a physician who performed painful gynecologic experiments on slaves in the 1800s, sometimes without anesthetics. Dr. Reverby points out that the current pedestal makes no mention of this tragic history, and instead focuses solely on Dr. Sims’ medical accolades. She asks whether we should rethink the “the bioethics of remembrance.”