Bioethics Blogs

In Memoriam: Edward “Pat” Pattullo

Edward “Pat” Pattullo, retired director of the Center for the Behavioral Sciences at Harvard University, passed away on May 7, 2015. He was 92.

From the age of 19, Pat navigated the globe with the American Field Service, the British Eighth, and later the British Indian Army. He returned to the United States in 1947, where he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago. In 1957, Pat was recruited to Harvard University by Nathan Pusey and became assistant dean to McGeorge Bundy. After a short time at York University in Toronto, Pat returned to Harvard in 1965 as the director of the William James Hall Center for the Behavioral Sciences, a position he held until his retirement in 1987.

When he first arrived, Harvard lacked formal procedures and methods for reviewing social and behavioral research, which changed as a result of Timothy Leary and Dick Alpert’s study investigating the effects of LSD on mental processes. According to his obituary, “Pat’s concern about the antics of Timothy Leary and his student experiments with LSD led to a broader interest in the ethics of using human subjects.” Pat was also involved in the development of the first IRB at Harvard.

In 2014, Joan Rachlin sat down with Pat and Dean Gallant for an interview for PRIM&R’s People and Perspectives initiative. Dean worked with Pat during his time at Harvard, and spoke about their relationship during the interview:

“I think Pat is [my] most effective mentor…the person from whom I learned the most about how to think about these issues and…life in general…whose advice I could seek out and who felt it was okay not always to have the answers, but to give the best painting of the situation and figure out what we should do with those details.”

During his interview, Pat talked about the early days of research oversight and the advent of IRBs, as well as his time at Harvard University.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.