News Release

University of Minnesota issues report on Red Lake Nation medical concerns

In response to the Red Lake Nation request and a MIAC resolution, experts Drs. Stanford Shulman, Brad Rovin, and Blair Matheson wrote a report to assist in understanding "the role of the University, its faculty, and others during a 1966 epidemic of post-streptococcal impetigo acute glomerulonephritis (PSAGN)." They evaluated allegations raised by Dr. William Freeman in a 2018 article questioning medical care provided to Red Lake Nation during the epidemic and related research activities.

These independent third-party reviewers included evidence made available to them by Red Lake Nation and the University, in addition to interviews with former faculty who were involved in these events in 1966 as well as related publications.

Key findings of the external reviewers:

  • Although mass penicillin prophylaxis was not carried out in 1966 as it had been in 1953, there is no evidence that mass penicillin prophylaxis would have prevented the PSAGN epidemic at Red Lake Nation. Mass penicillin prophylaxis is not the standard of care today.
  • The available evidence indicates that parental assent was sought and obtained for the administration of penicillin with children.
  • Although a signed consent form was not available for review, it appears that parental consent was obtained for kidney biopsies.
  • The kidney biopsies were done by highly experienced UMN nephrologists, and no known adverse events occurred among the Red Lake Nation children who received kidney biopsies.
  • The University’s research efforts at Red Lake Nation in the 1960's were carried out with the cooperation of the Red Lake Nation Tribal Council, the Red Lake Nation Community Action Program, members of the Red Lake Nation Comprehensive Health Services, personnel from the USPHS Hospital at Red Lake Nation, and Operation Head Start at Red Lake Nation.

Additional information is available in the complete report.

Media Contacts

Andria Waclawski

University Public Relations