A prominent California medical school has apologized for conducting dozens of unethical medical experiments on at least 2,600 incarcerated men in the 1960s and 1970s, including putting pesticides and herbicides on the men’s skin and injecting it into their veins, the Associated Press reports. Two dermatologists at the University of California, San Francisco — one of whom remains there — conducted the experiments on men at the California Medical Facility, a prison hospital in Vacaville, 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. The practice was halted in 1977.
The university’s Program for Historical Reconciliation issued a report about the experiments this month, writing that the doctors engaged in “questionable informed consent practices” and performed procedures on men who did not have any of the diseases or conditions that the research aimed to treat. “UCSF apologizes for its explicit role in the harm caused to the subjects, their families and our community by facilitating this research, and acknowledges the institution’s implicit role in perpetuating unethical treatment of vulnerable and underserved populations,” Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dan Lowenstein said. “We are still in the process of considering the recommendations and determining appropriate next steps,” the university said Thursday. “As we do so, it will be with humility and an ongoing commitment to a more just, equitable and ethical future.” The report focused on research by Dr. Howard Maibach and Dr. William Epstein. Maibach continues to work at the university, and Epstein died in 2006.