From the editor's desk.

Author:Gabriele, Edward
Position:Introduction - Editorial

In every year of our lives, we stand in the blinding, light-filled horizons of unexpected opportunity. As children, we open our arms wide in joy and anticipation. As we grow older, we learn that the horizons before us, while still bathed in blinding light, many times are challenges calling us to deep and sobering reflection. In this calendar year of 2012, American society has been called into very special horizons of reflective maturity. In this year, we recall the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the infamous syphilis studies performed in Tuskegee, Alabama, by members of the United States Public Health Service. What was thought to have been a brief observational study continued unchecked for forty years. The studies conducted in those decades were hardly just observational. The events that took place violated deeply the human dignity and autonomy of the citizens who took part. They were exposed to cruel hardships and risks that any decent human being would believe to be unthinkable in a modern and just society.

In 1972, the conscience of the world was stung by the revelations of these tragic events. Eventually, society's awareness led in the United States to the 1974 National Research Act and the 1979 Belmont Report. The tragedies that took place in Tuskegee evoked a strong sense of consciousness concerning the nature of ethics in research and especially the absolute and unmitigated rights of women, men and children without distinction to dignity, respect and freedom. Eventually, the Tuskegee Legacy Committee energized then-President Clinton to issue the 1997 Presidential Apology in which he clearly attested: "The United States government did something that was wrong--deeply, profoundly, morally wrong." Notably, this year we also commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Presidential Apology. Indeed, the history of all these events has had long range and permanent effects on the research that our profession stewards, leads, develops, assists, oversees, and manages.

Ethics has always been a constant and critical part of the very fabric of research. It is deeper, however, than cognitive speculation or discourse. Ethics in research by its very nature brings to the forefront of the research reality an intense and very important tension between two fundamental questions, namely: What are we capable of accomplishing? vs What should we be accomplishing? In other words, while we would like to believe that genius and innovation always lead to human and...

To continue reading