Institute News

First Zygo Lunchtime Roundtable to Examine Ethics of Holocaust Medical Experiments

The ethics of studying Holocaust medical experiments will be the topic of conversation at the first-ever Zygo Student Lunchtime Series panel Friday at 12:30 p.m in USC Doheny Memorial Library room G28.

The Zygo Student Lunchtime Series on Ethics in Medicine is part of the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics in partnership with the Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Studies at the University of Southern California. The Zygo series is organized by USC students in health and medicine who seek dialogue with USC faculty across disciplines to further integrate ethical themes into their curriculum (”Zygo” is a prefix indicating a union or joining).

Friday’s event is co-sponsored by the USC Shoah Foundation, and is free and open to all USC students. Click here to RSVP.

The panel, “Holocaust Experiments’ Effects on Modern Medicine: Looking Back to Move Forward,” will be moderated by Zygo director and Levan graduate fellow Pavitra Krishnamani and includes USC’s Wolf Gruner, Shapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of History; Sari Siegel, graduate student studying Nazi medicine; and Anthony Anderson, Holocaust Studies Librarian, Doheny Memorial Library.

Human experimentation was a major war crime during the Holocaust. At the forefront of these crimes was Dr. Josef Mengele, a physician bent on proving the superiority of the Nordic race. His cruel experiments resulted in the death and disability of many, and yielded numerous dissertations. USC Libraries provides book and video resources surrounding the breach of medical ethics during these experiments, and their physical and psychological after-effects.

The panel will discuss questions including: Is it ethical for us to host a copy of these experiments’ documents? Do students see these experiments as more commonplace if they are listed in our databases? How do the contents of these scientific and pseudo-scientific dissertations help us? What are the conceivable uses for these texts? What can we learn from these experiments? How have we used other ethically questionable medical or psychological experiments to inform us ethically and academically?

Future Zygo events are: “Authority to Kill: The Human Choice to Euthanize Humans and Other Animals,” March 28 at a venue to be announced, and “Half the Story: The Increasing Role of Alternative Medicine in Patients’ Lives Today” April 25 in Doheny Memorial Library, room 241. Both events are 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m.