Research Ethics Timeline

Key events in the history of human subject protection can be traced to ancient times, such as the creation of the Hippocratic Oath in the 4th century BC (physicians should do no harm); the Adab al-Tabib (Conduct of a Physician), a 9th century treatise on medical ethics by Ishaq bin Ali Rahawi; and the 1752 introduction of peer review for papers submitted to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. While the entire history of medicine and research ethics has contributed to the regulatory framework of today, this timeline will focus on summarizing key events from 1900 to 2020. The framework for human research ethics has evolved over this time in response to medical advances, new technologies, globalization, and revelations of past missteps. Many of the events below were pivotal points in shaping the current research ethics oversight environment.

View timeline in new window.