Saunders, Ruth

Ruth Saunders
1 June 2019Feature

The pacifists who volunteered for medical trials during the Second World War

Scabies mite. Photo: Kalumet via wikimedia commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]


Some years after the Second World War, articles appeared in national newspapers in the UK headed ‘Volunteers Sought to Risk Death’ and ‘Human Guinea Pigs Plea’. They were advocating the setting up of a national centre where scientists could ‘infect people with diseases and try out drugs – even if the risk is death’, and were based on a research project during the war.

In 1940, professor Kenneth…