What does a horse named Jim have to do with medical research?

A horse named Jim

A horse named Jim

Today I gave a lecture to a group of older adults about research. I wanted them to know the background behind the regulations we follow as well as understanding different kinds of research and the processes we adhere to keep them safe and protected. While preparing my notes I was reminded of a story that was one of many critical events that helped shape todays regulated research system. Enter Jim…

In 1902 a horse named Jim was used to prepare an antitoxin for diphtheria. After the death of 13 children who received the antitoxin, authorities discovered that the horse was infected with tetanus and therefore contaminated the antitoxin. As a result of this tragedy, Congress passed the Biologic Control Act of 1902, giving the government regulatory power over antitoxins and vaccine development.

Things certainly have evolved since this incident and it is interesting to think that Jim had influence in what is now known as the FDA.