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[April 1, 2013]


Tuskegee Syphilis Study Subject of Talk at SUNY Downstate, April 4

“The Tuskegee Syphilis Study: Why Does It Still Matter?,” will be the subject of a talk at SUNY Downstate Medical Center on Thursday, April 4, 2013 from 12:00 Noon to 1:00 pm, in the Basic Sciences Building, Lecture Hall 1, 450 Clarkson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11203.

This discussion of why the infamous Tuskegee study still matters more than four decades after it was ended will be presented by James H. Jones, PhD, author of the book, Bad Blood:  The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, A Tragedy of Race and Medicine.  The book received the Arthur Viseltear Prize from the American Public Health Association and was selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review as one of the 12 "Best Books" published in 1981.   

The Tuskegee experiment was a study performed by the Unites States Public Health Service in which several hundred rural black men infected with syphilis were observed in order to determine the natural history of the disease. The study began in 1932 and was not ended until 1972. The men were told they had “bad blood,” a phrase used locally to cover a variety of illnesses, but they were never told they had syphilis. Despite the adoption of penicillin to successfully treat syphilis in the 1940s, the men in the study did not receive the medication.  

James H. Jones is the distinguished alumni professor of history, emeritus, at the University of Arkansas.  He received his PhD in American social and intellectual history from Indiana University.  He has held fellowships from the Grant Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, Harvard University, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Jones is also the author of Alfred C. Kinsey:  A Public/Private Life, one of two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in biography. His articles and book reviews have appeared in publications as diverse as The New Yorker and The Hastings Center Report, and he has appeared on "Good Morning America" and "The Today Show." 

The talk is part of the HIV/ID Seminar Series and is supported by SUNY Downstate’s John Conley Division of Medical Ethics and Humanities.

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, Colleges of Nursing and Health Related Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, a School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and an Advanced Biotechnology Park and Biotechnology Incubator.

SUNY Downstate ranks ninth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school. To learn more about SUNY Downstate, visit