Higher Ed: In Havasupai suit, whose blood is it?
"The basic concept of informed consent in research is straightforward: People being studied should understand the research enough to know the risks and benefits and be able to make an intelligent decision on whether to participate. For anthropologists, whose discipline for decades studied native groups around the world without using the modern ideas of informed consent, the ethics involved are particularly sensitive.

Those ethics issues may be about to get a legal airing, following a decision Friday by an Arizona appeals court to revive a lawsuit by a small Indian tribe against the Arizona Board of Regents and some researchers involved in the use of blood collected from the tribe. Tribe members consented to the blood being used for research on why they may have been experiencing high rates of diabetes.

But they charge that some of the studies conducted with their blood — in some cases by researchers who played no role in the original study, or its informed consent protocols — violated their rights. Some of the additional research challenged the tribe’s religious beliefs and members say they never would have contributed to such studies.

Notably, this dispute involves not research that took place in anthropology’s early days, but in the 1990s, when protections for research subjects were at least theoretically in place.

The suit was initially dismissed on grounds related to whether the briefs appropriately outlined damages done to the tribe and how the litigation would prove those claimed harms. And it was revived based on the view of the appeals court that the tribe had in fact filed appropriately. Neither the dismissal nor the revival of the suit were based on the merits of the case — but those issues should now take center stage, and some think that’s a good thing."

Get the Story:
Whose Blood Is It? (Inside Higher Ed 12/1)

Arizona Appeals Court Decision:
Havasupai Tribe v. Arizona Board of Regents (November 30, 2008)

More Coverage:
Ruling revives lawsuits over blood research on Havasupai (The Arizona Republic 11/29)
Havasupai can sue over blood tests by ASU, UA (Capitol Media Services 11/28)
Arizona ruling revives lawsuits over research (AP 11/28)

Related Stories:
Suit over Havasupai blood research dismissed (05/04)
Havasupai Tribe presses suit over misuse of blood (11/21)
Havasupai Tribe sees support for research lawsuit (11/01)
Lawsuit over Havasupai blood moved to state court (5/5)
Scientist not sorry for using tribal members' blood (03/24)
ASU refutes claims of misuse of tribal members' blood (03/18)
Havasupai Tribe files $50M suit over misuse of blood (3/16)
Havasupai tribal members sue over use of blood (3/1)