The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Informed Consent and Building a Skeletal Sample


Forensic Anthropology Unit, Office of Chief Medical Examiner - NYC

Saturday 9:30-9:45, Ballroom A Add to calendar

From January 11, 2005, through June 30, 2006, skeletal specimens were collected from decedents of known age, sex, and race during examination at the Maricopa County Forensic Science Center (FSC) in Phoenix, Arizona. The specimens were collected for research on the estimation of age at death from the pubic bone and sternal end of the fourth rib. Consent from next of kin was obtained in compliance with the protocol approved by the Arizona State University Human Subjects’ Institutional Review Board. The collection consists of pubic bones and fourth rib ends from 419 males and 211 females, ranging in age from 18 to 99 years of age at death, and remains available for future study.

While past abuses of human subjects in the name of science cannot be taken back, those atrocities have led to legislation designed to protect the rights and privacy of individuals involved in biomedical studies. Currently, these laws and regulations only cover human subjects research on living individuals; there are no federal statutes regulating research on cadavers or human tissue from deceased individuals. State laws, however, do regulate some aspects of cadaveric, autopsy, and human tissue research on the deceased, but these laws vary from state to state. This paper discusses the present laws regulating human subjects research on deceased individuals, the concept of the Institutional Review Board, the processes of informed consent and creating a skeletal specimen collection, the state laws of Arizona regarding research on the deceased, and ethical considerations for this type of research.

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