From Helsinki to Istanbul: What can the transplant community learn from experience in clinical research?

Gabriel M Danovitch

In June of 1964, the World Medical Association developed the ‘Declaration of Helsinki’ (available at as a statement of ethical principles to provide guidance to investigators and physicians involved in human research. Over 40 years later the declaration remains ‘…a respected institution and one of the most influential documents in clinical research’ [1]. Though it is not binding to any local or international law, it draws its authority from the degree to which it has been codified, or influenced, as well as from national or regional legislation and regulations. Despite criticisms, the declaration is widely accredited with improving both the ethical and scientific quality of clinical research. It should be recalled however that the Helsinki Declaration was not developed and adopted in a vacuum; it was a response to horrific abuses of human rights, in the name of scientific research and medical progress, such as those perpetrated on inmates of Nazi concentration camps.

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