Research: Carl Elliott, MD, PhD

Carl Elliott, MD, PhD

Expertise: Research Ethics | Pharmaceutical Industry | Biomedical Enhancements | Psychiatry

Dr. Carl Elliott’s scholarship is largely devoted to the protection of vulnerable research subjects, especially those who are economically impoverished or mentally ill. He also works on ethical issues surrounding healthy subjects in Phase I clinical trials, especially issues involving payment to subjects. Elliott is the author or editor of seven books, including White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine (Beacon, 2010) and Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream (Norton, 2003.) His articles have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Review of Books, Mother Jones, The New York Times, The American Scholar and The New England Journal of Medicine. He is currently working on a book about whistleblowing in research on human subjects.He is the recipient of a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship and a 2019 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award.

A native South Carolinian, Dr. Elliott was educated at Davidson College in North Carolina and at Glasgow University in Scotland, where he received his PhD in philosophy. He received his MD from the Medical University of South Carolina. Prior to his appointment at the University of Minnesota in 1997, he was on the faculty of McGill University in Montreal. He has been a Visiting Associate Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, a Network Fellow at the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, a William Evans Visiting Fellow at the University of Otago in New Zealand, and an International Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Sydney. He is a Fellow of the Hastings Center, an Honorary Member of the Caribbean Bioethics Society, a recipient of the Pellegrino Medal in Bioethics from Samford University and the recipient of an Outstanding Faculty Award from the University of Minnesota's Council of Graduate Students. In 2011 the Austen Riggs Center awarded him its Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media.

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Articles

  • Elliott C. The Looping Effects of Enhancement Technologies, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 2018 (December 19) doi: 10.1007/s11673-018-9893
  • Lamkin M, Elliott C. Exploitation and Undue Influence, Avoiding Exploitation in Phase I Clinical Trials: More than (Un)just Compensation, Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics ,46 (2018):52-63.
  • Elliott, C. Commentary on Grady et al.: Using poor, uninsured minorities to test the safety of experimental drugs. Clinical Trials 2017, 14(5), 547-550.
  • Elliott C. Why Research Oversight Bodies Should Interview Research Subjects, IRB: Ethics and Human Research 2017, 39:2, 8-13.
  • Elliott C. The Anatomy of Research Scandals, The Hastings Center Report 2017, 47:3, back cover.
  • Lamkin M, Elliott C. Involuntarily Committed Patients as Prisoners, University ofRichmond Law Review 2017; 51(4), 1041-1091.
  • Elliott C. Institutional Pathology and the Death of Dan Markingson, Accountability in Research 2016; 24 (2), 65-79.
  • Elliott C. Fear and Loathing in Bioethics, Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics 2016, 6:1, 43-46.
  • Elliott C, Lamkin M. Restrict the Recruitment of Involuntarily Committed Patients for Psychiatric Research JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Apr 1;73(4):317-8.
  • Elliott C. Whatever Happened to Human Experimentation? Hastings Center Report 46 (1) pp. 8–11, January/February 2016.
  • Elliott C. Relationships between physicians and Pharma: why physicians should not accept money from the pharmaceutical industry. Neurol Clin Pract 2014;4:164-167.
  • Elliott C. Psychiatric Research Abuse at the University of Minnesota, Turkish Journal of Bioethics 2014; 1(1): 38-43
  • Lamkin M, Elliott C. Curing the Disobedient Patient: Medication Adherence Programs as Pharmaceutical Marketing Tools, Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 2014 42(4):492-500.
  • Macklin M, Shepherd L, Dreger A, et al The OHRP and SUPPORT — Another View (letter). New England Journal of Medicine, June 26, 2013. 
  • Landa A, Elliott C. From Community to Commodity: The Ethics of Pharma-Funded Networking Sites for Physicians. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 14:3, August, 2013.
  • Elliott C. Justice for Injured Research Subjects, New England Journal of Medicine 2012; 367:68.
  • Elliott C. Enhancement Technologies and the Modern Self, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 2011 36: 364-374. 
  • Elliott C and Landa A, What’s wrong with ghostwriting?  Bioethics 2010, 24: 6, 284–286. 


  • Elliott C. Happiness on Demand? New York Review of Books 2019 (February 7); 66(2).
  • Elliott C. Cleaning Up the Lab Cages: Healthy Human Phase I Trials and Animal Welfare Requirements, Ethics and Human Research 2019 Mar;41(2):38-40. doi: 10.1002/eahr.500012.
  • Elliott C. Knifed with a Smile, New York Review of Books 2018 (April 5); 65(6), pp. 64-7.
  • Elliott C. Tuskegee Truth Teller, The American Scholar Winter 2018, pp. 44-56.
  • Elliott C.  “What New Zealand’s “Unfortunate Experiment” Can Teach Us about Medical Abuse,” The Boston Review, November 26, 2017.
  • Elliott C. Power Concedes Nothing without a Demand: The Case for a Patient Boycott of U.S. Clinical Trials; IRB: Ethics and Human Research, March-April 2018, 40 (2), 15-18.
  • Lamkin M, Elliott C. University of Minnesota research lapses show self-reform is failing, , Minneapolis Star Tribune, February 8, 2016.
  • Elliott C. U Owes Mistreated Research Subjects an Apology, Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 7, 2015.
  • Elliott C. The University of Minnesota’s Medical Research Mess, The New York Times, May 26 2015.
  • Elliott C, University of Minnesota Blasted for Deadly Clinical Trial, Mother Jones, April 23 2015 (online only). 
  • Elliott C. The Best-Selling, Billion-Dollar Pills Tested on Homeless People, Matter, July 28, 2014.
  • Elliott C. Useless Studies, Real Harm. New York Times, July 28, 2011
  • Elliott C.  Mind Game, The New Yorker, September 6, 2010
  • Elliott C.  Making a Killing, Mother Jones, September/October 2010, pp. 55-63.
  • Elliott C.  The Mild Torture Economy, The London Review of Books 32:18, September 23, 2010. Translated and reprinted as Arme Schlucker: Das weltweite Geschaeft mit Pharmatests, Le Monde Diplomatique, December 2010, pp. 12-13
  • Elliott C, How to Brand a Disease and Sell a Cure,, Oct. 11 2010 
  • Elliott C. The Secret Lives of Big Pharma’s Thought Leaders, Chronicle of Higher Education, September 12, 2010.
  • Elliott C.  Playing Doctor: How to Spin Pharmaceutical Research, The Atlantic Monthly, December 2010.


  • Elliott C. White Coat, Black Hat (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010.)