Author Credentials

Emma M. Nellhaus, Todd H. Davies, PhD


Clinical Trials, Clinical Research, History, Belmont Report


Medicine and Health Sciences


The history of clinical research accounts for the high ethical, scientific, and regulatory standards represented in current practice. In this review, we aim to describe the advances that grew from failures and provide a comprehensive view of how the current gold standard of clinical practice was born. This discussion of the evolution of clinical trials considers the length of time and efforts that were made in order to designate the primary objective, which is providing better care for our patients. A gradual, historic progression of scientific methods such as comparison of interventions, randomization, blinding, and placebos in clinical trials demonstrates how these techniques are collectively responsible for a continuous advancement of clinical care. Developments over the years have been ethical as well as clinical. The Belmont Report, which many investigators lack appreciation due to time constraints, represents the pinnacle of ethical standards and was developed due to significant misconduct. Understanding the history of clinical research may help investigators appreciate the responsibility of conducting human subjects’ research.