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Sep 13, 2016

Visiting Speaker September 23 - Dr. Gregory Pence

Dr. Gregory Pence will be giving a talk in our department on September 23. Dr. Pence is a Professor and the Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, as well as the Director of the Early Medical Student Acceptance Program in UAB's College of Medicine. His talk, titled “Is one of the most famous studies in neuroscience like the infamous Tuskegee study?” will occur from 2-4pm in McCain Hall, Room 185.

Attendance at this talk can serve as MSU IRB refresher credit and for Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) credit. Contact Kacey Strickland ( for more information.

Dr. Pence's abstract is as follows:

In 2000, researchers at Harvard, Tulane and Maryland saw a unique opportunity with Romania’s abandoned orphans to do a study in nature about how deprivation affects development of brains and personality in children. Dividing groups of institutionalized orphans into two groups of about sixty, they matched the two groups for several variables. In the treatment group, researchers strove to get foster parents or adoption for orphans. In the control group, they left the orphans alone in Romanian institutions, where hundreds often had only one cleaning woman as a custodian. By 2013, after going back and testing subjects in both groups, these researchers say they had proved that lack of human contact in large institutions profoundly harmed those children.

But should these researchers have done more for orphans in the non-treatment group? Wasn’t it already known by 2000 that lack of stimulation and isolating profoundly affects brain development? Why did no IRB object to this study? Because it was in poor Romania? Why is this study presented in courses in neurosciences as if it’s ethically uncontroversial?

We hope to see you there!

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