Book: The Normals: A People’s History (under contract)

Between 1954 and 1995, thousands of healthy American citizens participated as “guinea pigs” in medical experiments at the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. These “normal control” research subjects moved for several years, months or weeks to live inside the NIH research hospital, called the Clinical Center. The Normals: A People’s History tells their story. Throughout the United States, private and public organizations — including churches, colleges, labor unions, civic groups, and federal prisons — signed legal contracts with NIH to send their members to the NIH Clinical Center for experiments.treadmill Since 2010, Laura Stark has collected nearly 200 oral histories, as well as photographs, letters, diaries, and other memorabilia of the period, from the former “normal control” research subjects — along with the NIH scientists who experimented with them and staff members who were part of their everyday hospital lives. By pairing this new, publicly available “vernacular archive” with materials from conventional archival collections, the book documents the experiences of research participants, sheds new light on the global politics of postwar America, and connects the fields of medicine, religion, higher education, organized labor, and the carceral state through an anti-colonial frame.

Book: Behind Closed Doors: IRBs and the Making of Ethical Research. (2012, Chicago) stark-cvr

“[S]ignificant and fascinating.”

-Alice Dreger, Journal of American History

“The writing is lucid, the analysis sharp, and the observations keen. This will be a book to be reckoned with in the decades to come.”

-Susan E. Lederer, University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of Subjected to Science

“Laura Stark, as her book title promises, takes us behind closed doors to better understand how IRBs do their work. Comfortable both in meeting rooms and archives, she skillfully analyzes the many barriers to the ethical and legal conduct of human experimentation.”

-David J. Rothman, Columbia University, author of Strangers at the Bedside

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