MADE HISTORY? NOW MAKE ORAL HISTORY.

by Erin Kelly

If you were a “normal control” research subject at NIH during your “K” career service quarter, then we know an oral historian that wants to talk to you.

During the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s Kalamazoo College sent many students to the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland to participate as subjects of clinical trials and to work as research assistants for these trials.

In the decades following World War II, clinical research on human subjects in America increased dramatically. At the same time, studies using human subjects became increasingly legally restricted, compelling researchers to seek out new groups of participants. Many of the healthy “normal control” volunteers that have participated in clinical trials since the mid-40s have been college students. The “K” career service program that sent students to the NIH provided them with a laboratory experience and a paid research opportunity. And the Clinical Center gained a pool of healthy volunteers.

Today, Dr. Laura Stark, Wesleyan University (Middletown, Conn.), is embarking on a project to examine the experiences of “normal control” research subjects at the NIH. This venture will examine the clinical trials performed in the postwar decades at the NIH from the perspective of the trial participants. Stark will conduct a number of oral history interviews with people who served as “normal control” subjects
Interested in this oral history project? Contact Laura Stark
at the NIH, and she is hoping to include any Kalamazoo College alumni who underwent this experience.

In a broad sense this project will suggest how research participants affected clinical findings, and how the institutions in postwar America that sent volunteers to NIH, including universities and religious organizations, shaped the course of biomedical science into the 21st century.

If you are interested in contributing or learning more about this project, please contact Dr. Laura Stark at 860-685-3205 or ljstark@wesleyan.edu.

PIC 1
Joe Muenzer ’71 at the NIH campus

PIC 2
Sharlyn Seabron ’76 (center) with researchers at NIH



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