The Harvard Committee on the Use of Human Subjects in Research yesterday released a booklet outlining its guidelines for reviewing proposed research projects involving human subjects that are conducted within the University.
A one-page insert to the booklet stresses the importance of recognizing areas of scientific research recently placed under the committee's jurisdiction by a recent University interpretation of a 1974 federal law.
The National Research Act of 1974 significantly altered the duties of the Harvard committee, which since its inception in 1963 has been responsible for reviewing and either approving or modifying all research projects involving human subjects proposed by faculty members or students, Edward L. Pattullo, chairman of the committee, said yesterday.
The Act required all institutions performing federally funded experiments on human subjects to establish committees which set guidelines for such experiments, he said.
There was some question, Pattullo said, as to whether the federal regulations required the committee to review all human-subject experiments or only those receiving funds from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) and other federal sources.
Pattullo said the committee until last year had acted on the principle that only those experiments receiving HEW funds needed to be reviewed by the committee.
The committee changed its policy last year when Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, determined that the 1974 Act applied to all research involving human subjects, whether federally funded or not, Pattullo said. The insert to the booklet is meant "to remind people of that," he added.
The committee will probably review as many as 200 proposed research projects this year. Dean Gallant, executive secretary of the committee, said. This number represents an increase over the annual average of 125 proposals reviewed before the expansion of the committee's jurisdiction, he said.
The rise in the number of proposals reviewed is "not indicative of an increased amount of research on campus," Gallant said, but was "a sign that more people are aware of the committee's existence and function."
All but a very few of the proposals reviewed by the committee are approved, Pattullo said. He added, however, that "Probably 90 per cent of them are amended by us in some way." insert
"Research projects involving human subjects" include not only laboratory and field procedures in biomedical and psychological sciences, but also "all techniques for the collection of information about specific people or the groups to which they belong," the insert says