Media Advisory: Panel to address bioethics, medical testing on humans

ATTENTION: Reporters covering health, medicine, science


A panel at the University of California, Berkeley, featuring Wellesley College’s Susan Reverby, the researcher who discovered U.S. Public Health Service studies in which hundreds of Guatemalans were deliberately infected with syphilis in the 1940s. Reverby’s discovery led to a formal apology by the U.S. government to the government of Guatemala and a review by a presidential bioethics commission.

Reverby, the Marion Butler McLean Professor in the History of Ideas and professor of women’s and gender studies at Wellesley College, will present a talk followed by a panel discussion featuring professors Art Reingold and Jodi Halpern from UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. The panel will explore how U.S. tax dollars came to pay for infected prostitutes to sleep with Guatemalan prisoners, why the results of the studies were not published, how the experiments remained hidden for so long and what the discovery means.


5-7 p.m., Thursday, March 17

Reverby will be on campus earlier in the day and is available for media interviews by appointment.


100 Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley School of Law. A map of campus is online.


  • Susan Reverby, an historian of American women, nursing, medicine and public health, and a leading expert on the Tuskegee syphilis studies. She has written extensively on the Tuskegee syphilis experiments conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service between 1932 and 1972.
  • Art Reingold, professor of epidemiology and associate dean for research at the School of Public Health. He is a member the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Science and serves on the World Health Organization’s Scientific Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE).
  • Jodi Halpern, associate professor of community health and human development at the School of Public Health. She is the author of “From Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice” (2001).


The event is being co-sponsored by the Human Rights Center, School of Public Health, School of Law, Graduate School of Journalism, Department of African American Studies, Department of Latin American Studies, and the Boalt Hall Committee for Human Rights.