1952–1964: Chester M. Southam, MD, injected live cancer cells into 14 patients and healthy convicts

Chester M. Southam, MD, a noted immunologist at Sloan-Kettering Institute sought to study the human immunity response to cancer. He obtained funding from the government and injected live cancer cells into 14 patients with advanced cancer and into healthy convicts at Ohio State Prison. The study in prisoners was designed to examine “the natural killing off process of the human body”; inmates were misinformed, when told they faced “no grave danger. Any cancer that took would spread slowly . . . and could be removed surgically.” Two of the patients died before their projected prognosis; four patients developed tumors that were surgically removed; in some patients the tumors grew back, and one patient metastasized. Half of the test subjects in this NIH-sponsored study were black. [Hornblum, BMJ, 1997] In 1962, Dr. Southam and his team conducted a similar experiment in demented elderly patients at the Brooklyn Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital. (Read below)