Both Johns Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Foundation recently issued statements saying that while they condemn the Guatemalan studies that harmed hundreds of people, their institutions were not involved or responsible for those studies.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the institution played no role in the Guatemalan study of the 1940s: “This was not a Johns Hopkins study. Johns Hopkins did not initiate, pay for, direct, or conduct the study in Guatemala. Participation in the review of government research was then and is today separate from being a Johns Hopkins employee, and no nonprofit university or hospital has ever been held liable for a study conducted by the U.S. government,” wrote Ronald J. Daniels, president of The Johns Hopkins University; Paul B. Rothman, MD, dean of the medical faculty, and Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH, dean of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The letter was published April 1, 2015, to the Johns Hopkins community. (The letter can be found at http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/guatemala_study/.)

Also, the Rockefeller Foundation has no connection to the Guatemalan experiments, according to a public statement by the foundation (http://bit.ly/1F3Q5io).

“The lawsuit recently filed in Baltimore against the Rockefeller Foundation seeks improperly to assign ‘guilt by association’ in the absence of compensation from the United States federal government,” according to the statement. “The complaint alleges that Dr. Thomas Parran approved the experiments as Surgeon General of the United States, at a time when he also sat on the Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation. There is absolutely no evidence that the Foundation or its Board — or Dr. Parran in his capacity as a member of the Board — had any connection whatsoever with the experiments.”

The Johns Hopkins letter also stated that the plaintiffs’ “essential claim in this case is that prominent Johns Hopkins faculty members’ participation on a government committee that reviewed funding applications was tantamount to conducting the research itself, and therefore that Johns Hopkins should be held liable.”

Historians previously have linked Johns Hopkins faculty members to other unethical government research studies in Tuskegee and Terre Haute, the authors wrote.

“Although separate from the Guatemala lawsuit, these studies were all deplorable and all demand reflection upon the broader legacy of unethical research. It is important to confront and learn from the past,” they wrote. “At the same time, we cannot let unfounded allegations go unchallenged. We will defend the institution vigorously in court against legal responsibility for the government’s Guatemala study.”