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Ethics in Human Experimentation: the Two Military Physicians Who Helped Develop the Nuremberg Code

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Temme LA. Ethics in human experimentation: the two military physicians who helped develop the Nuremberg Code. Aviat Space Environ Med 2003; 74:12971300.

The Nuremberg Code is generally considered the beginning of modern ethics in human experimentation. The Code is a list of 10 principles that Judge Walter Beals included in the judgment he delivered at the close of the Nuremberg Medical Trial on 19 August 1947. Recently, scholars have studied the origin of the Code, who wrote it, and why. This is important to military medicine and the Aerospace Medical Association in particular because many of the defendants claimed their crimes were experiments in aviation and environmental physiology conducted under wartime conditions. The chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Medical Trial, General Telford Taylor, relied on the guidance of an advisor provided by the American Medical Association, Andrew C. Ivy, one of the foremost physiologists of his time. The neurologist, Leo Alexander, then a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, was another medical advisor. Both men were crucial to the development of Taylor’s courtroom strategy. The material Alexander and Ivy provided was incorporated verbatim in the section of the judgment that became the Code. Although both men contributed to the Code, Ivy provided what seems to be the first formulation of many of these principles during a meeting of Allied medical investigators at the Pasteur Institute in July 1946. Naval researchers should note that Ivy had been the Director of the Research Division of the Naval Medical Research Institute when it was commissioned on October 27, 1942.

Keywords: Andrew C. Ivy; Leo Alexander; Nuremberg Code; human experiment ethics; medical history; military medical history

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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