Skip to content



I am an anthropologist and received my Ph. D. from the Graduate Center (CUNY) with a dissertation on a group of poor research subjects making a living by selling their bodies to test new, experimental drugs, for Big Pharma in Philadelphia. My book exploring this topic “The Professional Guinea Pig: Big Pharma and the Risky World of Human Subjects” has been recently published by Duke University Press. Since then, I have been interested in an empirical and ethnographic approach to bioethics and, in particular, the participation of human subjects in clinical trials research in America. I have done studies of HIV patients enrolled in clinical trials as well as of breast cancer patients participating as research subjects. Participating in a collaborative and interdisciplinary group at SNRG offers me the opportunity to apply social network theory towards an understanding of how social inequalities shape the way intravenous drug users understand and deal with risks associated with their practice such as HIV and Hep C, a topic I started exploring in my native country, Uruguay almost two decades ago.  For the cycle 2013, I was Project Director of the Center for Disease Control, National HIV Behavioral Surveillance on High-Risk Heterosexuals in New York City. I am currently the senior ethnographer and field director of “Injector Social Networks in Rural Puerto Rico” a project based at the Reach Lab, University of Nebraska Lincoln. Before coming here I spent some time at the Bioethics Program at the Mayo Clinic and the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill University. I had my fifteen minutes of media attention from venues such as Times Magazine, BBC and The Guardian. I “guinea pigged” in a couple of clinical trials,  not for the science but for money, a few years ago.

Roberto Abadie