Peter Buxtun

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Person.png Peter Buxtun  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(researcher, whistleblower)
Peter Buxtun.jpg
ExposedTuskegee syphilis experiment
Blew the whistle on the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.

Peter Buxtun blew the whistle on the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.


Buxtun, then a 27-year-old social worker and epidemiologist in San Francisco,[1] was hired by the Public Health Service in December 1965[2] to interview patients with sexually transmitted diseases; in the course of his duties, he learned of the Tuskegee Experiment from co-workers. He later said—"I didn't want to believe it. This was the Public Health Service. We didn't do things like that."[1] In November 1966, he filed an official protest on ethical grounds with the Service's Division of Venereal Diseases; this was rejected on the grounds that the Experiment was not yet complete. He filed another protest in November 1968; again, his concerns were ruled irrelevant.[3]

In 1972, Buxtun leaked information on the Tuskegee Experiment to Jean Heller of the Washington Star. Heller's story exposing the Experiment was published on July 25, 1972; It became front-page news in the New York Times the following day. Senator Edward Kennedy called Congressional hearings, at which Buxtun and HEW officials testified and the Experiment was terminated shortly thereafter.[4] Buxtun subsequently testified at the ensuing Congressional hearing.

In May 1999, Buxtun attended the launch of a memorial center and public exhibit to the experiment in Tuskegee.[5]


  1. a b Heller, Jean (July 20, 1997). "The legacy of Tuskegee". St Petersburg Times. p. 1D
  2. Rubin, Allen; Babbie, Earl R. (2005). Research Methods for Social Work. Thomson Wadsworth. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-534-62109-4
  4. Stryker, Jeff (13 April 1997). "Tuskegee's long arm still touches a nerve".
  5. "Center launched as training tool". Associated Press. May 17, 1999