My topic choice for this project was driven by my desire to bring awareness to the racial health disparities that we not only see now in the modern day, but throughout history as well, and then eventually tying it back to the modern day and the current pandemic we are living through. Very often when I was taught about the history of medical advancements in history, the teacher or professor talked about the impact of the advancements of themselves, but not quite how they got their. This is especially important to talk about in American history because many medical advancements throughout history came about at the expense of, and exploitation of black American slaves. Even if there was a positive outcome of the these experiments, it does not excuse the fact that these were human beings whose lives and wellbeing were not at all prioritized during them. Many of the people used as subjects during these experiments were given any sort of medication or anesthetic to ease the pain whatsoever.
This is why I think it is important that we study and examine the people and the lives behind the advancements of medicine because many people are often unaware of just how unethical the histories behind them really are. I also feel by examining these histories we can see the importance of the failures in ethics that it took to save the lives of others centuries later, especially since ethics are extremely important to the study of medicine.
This perspective for my topic came about one day when I decided that I wanted to have a bit more of personal connection with the research and work I would be doing for this project. I had been specifically thinking about my memories as a pre-med student at Jefferson University. I had a biology lab twice a week, and when the semester was nearing its end my professor for this class assigned all our groups a specific disease that we had to conduct research on and come up with a series of experiments to treat the disease based on everything we studied so far, but before he assigned each group a disease, he made sure to teach us the importance of ethics. He highlighted the gruesome, and harsh ways by which many medical advancements were achieved throughout history. He wanted us to go into our projects with this new perspective we didn’t have before so we could approach our projects with minds that not only prioritized good results, but also prioritized the way in which we handle our subjects.
With my interest in history and medicine, I really want this project to reflect who I am as both a writer, and historian, which is why I want this project to include parts of who I was as a pre-med student, and who I am currently as a history major because both are a part of me, and this is an important topic to me.