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Penn President Amy Gutmann is urging stronger protections for human subjects in government-funded research.

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues — which Gutmann chairs — released a 200-page report to the public on Thursday. The report outlined a 14-step process for establishing better safeguards in the rare cases that people involved in research are harmed.

However, the report made clear that the “United States system provides substantial protections for the health, rights and welfare of research subjects,” according to a summary of the findings.

President Barack Obama had tasked the Commission to investigate research standards after it came to light in October 2010 that the U.S. Public Health Service had supported unethical research in Guatemala from 1946-48. According to a report released by the Commission on Sept. 13, the Guatemala case had involved intentionally exposing thousands of Guatemalan citizens to sexually transmitted diseases without their consent. 

“Nothing on the order of what happened in Guatemala could happen today with federally funded research,” Gutmann said on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.

Despite this progress, she added in a statement that “it is also clear that improvements can be made to protect human subjects going forward. With the Commission’s recommendations, society will continue to benefit from advances in quality of life made possible by human subjects research and ensure respect for the inherent dignity of individual research volunteers.”

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