Harper to speak at U.Va. April 27
She is last surviving member of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study health care team
Courtesy of Yale University
|Dr. Mary Starke Harper (speaking) reformed the way federally funded research could be conducted on humans.
By Dory Hulse
At the age of seven, an African-American girl was meticulously raising white mice to sell to hospitals and universities for research. And so in 1926, a career began that would carry this self-described “bookworm” from a quiet Alabama town to Washington, D.C., where she would work for the federal government for 60 years and become known as one of the nation’s leading authorities on mental health and aging. Along the way, she would help transform the way research is conducted on human subjects.
Her impact is felt today across multiple scholarly disciplines. One of her proudest legacies is the contribution to America’s health care system of more than 8,000 minority professionals whose doctorate degrees are due to her initiation and development of the National Fellowship Programs in psychiatry, psychology, social work, sociology and nursing.
The remarkable and indomitable woman, Dr. Mary Starke Harper — pioneer, scholar, researcher, policy-maker and adviser to four U.S. Presidents — will present “Human Experimentation: From Tuskegee 1932 to Rural Virginia 2005” on April 27 in Newcomb Hall Theater from
3 p.m. to 4 p.m., with a reception to follow. The program is sponsored by the School of Nursing Diversity Committee, the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and the Center for Biomedical Ethics.
Harper is the last surviving member of the health care team that conducted the famous Tuskegee Syphilis Study, an experience that inspired her as a student nurse to ultimately work from the inside to reform the way federally funded research could be conducted on humans. Her determined efforts also helped to establish minimum requirements for quality, long-term health care. She initiated the first National Minority Health Research and Development Center and
has been on the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles; St. Joseph College; University of Minnesota; Virginia Tech; and the University of Alabama. She has published five books and 186 articles.
Currently, she consults, lectures extensively, conducts workshops, testifies before Congress, reviews grant proposals, edits articles for
national journals and serves as an adviser to the Alabama Departments of Mental Health and Senior Services. She remains active with the Advisory Council of the National Institute for Aging and the Surgeon General’s Task Force for Mental Health and Aging, serves on the
National Mental Health Association’s Board of Directors and is a Johnson & Johnson consultant to the Rosalyn Carter Institute for Family Caregiving and to a Dartmouth School of Medicine program.
The state of Alabama recognized Harper when they named the Geriatric Psychiatry Center in Tuscaloosa in her honor and installed her in the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame. In 2001, she received the Living Legacy Award in Aging from the American Academy of Nursing.