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Call for Biohistory Guidelines

Call for Biohistory Guidelines

  • Jordan Paradise

I am writing in response to an essay published in the most recent issue of PLoS Medicine by Deborah Hayden, entitled “Alas, Poor Yorick: Digging Up the Dead to Make Medical Diagnoses” [1]. As a co-author of the Science piece with Lori B. Andrews that Hayden references, I am troubled by her comment on our article. Nowhere in that article, “Ethics. Constructing Ethical Guidelines for Biohistory” [2], do we suggest that genetic testing be done on deceased individuals for historically significant questions. In fact, we specifically highlight some of the ethical, legal, social, and scientific issues that such testing raises and recommend that guidelines be developed in order to monitor current research that is being undertaken in this area. The article does not advocate biohistorical research. This distinction is very important and one that is quite evident upon a careful reading of our article.


  1. 1. Hayden D (2005) Alas, Poor Yorick: Digging Up the Dead to Make Medical Diagnoses. PLoS Med 2: e60.D. HaydenAlas, Poor Yorick: Digging Up the Dead to Make Medical Diagnoses.PLoS Med20052e60
  2. 2. Andrews LB, Buenger N, Bridge J, Rosenow L, Stoney D, et al. (2004) Ethics. Constructing ethical guidelines for biohistory. Science 304: 215–216.LB AndrewsN. BuengerJ. BridgeL. RosenowD. StoneyEthics. Constructing ethical guidelines for biohistory.Science2004304215216