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News about the recently published book by Dr. Roberto Abadie, a Wenner-Gren Foundation Grantee

July 30, 2010

Leslie Aiello and Roberto Abadie
Leslie Aiello (President, Wenner-Gren Foundation) and Dr. Roberto Abadie with his new book.

Roberto Abadie, (Ph.D Graduate Center, CUNY 2006) was born in Uruguay and is a recipient of the Wadsworth International Fellowship from Wenner-Gren Foundation from 2000-2006. After completing his Doctorate he received a Wenner-Gren Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship to support the writing and publication of his dissertation into a book. The book: The Professional Guinea Pig: Big Pharma and the Risky World of Human Subjects has just been published by Duke University Press.

The book draws on ethnographic research of paid research subjects in clinical trials conducted between July 2003 and December 2004 in Philadelphia and focuses on a group of self-defined “professional guinea pigs” who earn their livelihoods as research subjects for Phase I clinical trials testing drugs being developed by the pharmaceutical industry. The book brings attention to the professionalization of research subjects and illuminates the experiences and meanings associated with being a paid subject and the effect of financial compensation on the way volunteers understand and deal with risks as well as on the ethical arrangements involved in the protection of human subjects in biomedical research. For comparative purposes the research also then looks at a group of HIV patients volunteering in Phase II and III trials. Dr. Abadie argues that the significant financial compensation offered in Phase I trials has created a new group of vulnerable professional research subjects and distorts volunteers’ perception of