Joan Rachlin’s Tribute to Jay Katz

Jay KatzAs a small non-profit organization, it took a while—28 years to be precise—for PRIM&R to decide to bestow an annual Award on an individual whose contribution to the field of research ethics was significant. Once that decision was made, though, the matter of to whom the first such award should go was resolved with breathtaking speed! Jay Katz has been the moral compass of the research ethics field since the publication of his groundbreaking book "Experimentation with Human Beings" in 1972.

 When I completed my Master’s Degree in Public Health and was thereby able to officially call myself a “health lawyer,” a friend sent me a cartoon showing two people meeting at a cocktail party, apparently for the first time. The caption read, “I inhabit that shadowy world between law and medicine.” Thanks largely to Jay Katz, many of those shadows have been erased by his illuminating and inspiring writings which demand that we pay attention to ethics in research, which means, in large measure, paying respectful attention to those individuals who participate as subjects.

With brilliance, an accessible and ever-lucid writing style, an unerring understanding that “those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it,” endless energy, steely determination, and mostly, enormous heart, Jay Katz has been our beacon and our conscience as we work to ensure that “never again” means just that.

This volume is therefore presented to Jay with great respect, admiration, and love on the occasion of his being the inaugural awardee of PRIM&R’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Research Ethics. Having such an extraordinary first recipient does PRIM&R great honor, and on behalf of our community, we thank him for the gift of both his work and his determination to make research ethics a cause, and not just a career. Thanks to Jay Katz, a field was born and the seeds of hope and knowledge have been planted therein. May it long continue to bear the fruits of his prodigious and much-needed labors, and may Jay long continue to be our cherished teacher and fearless leader!

Joan Rachlin, JD, MPH
Executive Director
PRIM&R
December 3, 2001