Professional Ethics Report: Volume XXIV, Number 3, Summer 2011

PDF VersionProfessional Ethics Report (PER), which has been in publication since 1988, reports on news and events, programs and activities, and resources related to professional ethics issues, with a particular focus on those professions whose members are engaged in scientific research and its applications.

Each quarterly issue is comprised of a cover story addressing one particular issue or event, sometimes written by an expert outside the AAAS; a series of timely, in the news stories; brief updates from the societies; and useful resources and announcements.


Volume XXIV, Number 3, Summer 2011

[Download the PDF]

Cover Story

In the News

In the Societies

Resources

Announcements


Contributing Staff

  • Mark S. Frankel, Editor and contributing author
  • Greg Barber, Contributing author
  • Rebecca Carlson, Deputy Editor and contributing author
  • Elizabeth Dervan, Contributing author
  • Meghan McCabe, Contributing author

To Subscribe: To receive electronic versions of PER, please subscribe by filling out this form: http://listserv.aaas.org/mailman/listinfo/per.

This newsletter may be reproduced without permission as long as proper acknowledgement is given. ISSN: 1045-8808


Cover Story

“Ethics CORE” Launched: New Web-Based National Resource for Research, Professional Ethics

By C.K.Gunsalus

C.K.Gunsalus is the Director of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics. Ethics CORE National Online Resource, Coordinated Science Laboratory, University of Illinois.

Do you teach about research ethics? Does your research involve research or professional ethics? Are you seeking a resource for students or for practicing scientists or engineers about professional ethics? Are you looking for a current resource for an example, or trying to find that article you remember and cannot quite find? Ethics CORE can help you with all that, and more. And you can help shape an emerging national resource on research and professional ethics through your participation, comments and feedback.

The mission of the Ethics CORE (Collaborative Online Resource Environment) site, at NationalEthicsCenter.org, is to bring together information on best practices in research, ethics instruction, and responses to ethical problems that arise in research and professional life. Ethics CORE is building a collection to provide “one-stop shopping” for:

  • instructors who teach professional and research ethics,
  • students with questions about research integrity,
  • administrators in universities and businesses who oversee ethics and compliance policies,
  • scholars who conduct research on professional and research ethics, and
  • practicing scientists and engineers seeking information and insight into the challenging issues involved in research and professional ethics.

Background
Ethics CORE was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in response to the America COMPETES Act of 2007, which requires that institutions receiving research or education support from the NSF “provide appropriate training and oversight in the responsible and ethical conduct of research to undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers participating in the… research.” In order to help scholars and institutions meet that requirement, NSF is overseeing creation of this resource to provide “easy access to high quality case studies, best practices, and original scholarship in ethics in science, mathematics, and engineering.”

In 2010, responsibility for creating that website was awarded to a team of scholars from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Howard University. The Ethics CORE development team hails from diverse backgrounds, including information science, engineering, law and education. An extensive committee structure involves leaders in a wide range of disciplines funded by NSF, and interconnects disciplinary societies and professional organizations. The Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program at AAAS is a founding partner of the project, as are Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIMR), the National Academy of Engineering, the IIT Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions and Ethics Education Library, and the Center for Professional Responsibility in Business and Society. More than four dozen groups so far have expressed interest in working with Ethics CORE.

A central principle of the Ethics CORE project is that it is designed to complement, not compete with, existing resources. The project has a dedicated staff member who works with potential collaborators and partners to facilitate cross-linking and coordination to advance this aim.

Foundational Work
One year into the effort, the Ethics CORE team has built a foundation for the national resource. When you visit, you’ll find a robust online ethics resource with comprehensive information access functions and social networking features, including a flexible and expandable infrastructure for making resources easily accessible for a wide range of users. The search box on the front page provides access to materials across a huge range of journals, conference proceedings and instructional resources – all specifically aimed at research ethics, RCR, and related topics. It’s fast, powerful and addictive once you give it a try.

In the coming months and years, the contents of the site will be expanded and enriched. The inaugural collection provides a range of materials to demonstrate the capabilities of the site and engage your interest. To achieve the greatest possible subject coverage and usefulness, resources have been harvested from other sites (with permission); retrieved from comprehensive searches of the research literature; posted by content partner organizations; and created as original work by Ethics CORE faculty. Many of the original materials created to date are pilot examples that are now being field-tested to study their potential and demonstrate proof-of-concept; far more will be added in the future. To harness the power of crowd sourcing, the site also accepts submissions of material from any interested donors; the deposits are loosely moderated and periodically reviewed by site administrators, according to guidelines available on the site.

Education Goals
The educational model of Ethics CORE grew out of an extensive literature search of empirical studies and practice, whose conclusions can be found on the site. Specifically, three principles guide Ethics CORE content:

  • There are a range of instructional approaches in the field, ranging from more didactic models to others emphasizing the complexity and open-endedness of moral decision-making. Many approaches across this spectrum may be suitable for particular audiences and purposes, but they are not usually distinguished in this way. Ethics CORE is collecting and organizing materials in ways that clarify these different dimensions, in order to make their pedagogical assumptions more explicit. A growing collection of active learning resources, including exercises and information (with video examples) for instructors about how to use them is featured on the site.
  • Moral motivation matters: once people recognize what the right thing is to do, what are the factors that motivate (or discourage) actually taking such action? Ethics CORE is intended to illuminate a continuum of approaches. For example, some models are more social and institutional in their view of moral incentives or disincentives; others emphasize much more the centrality of individual responsibility. All are represented on the site.
  • A third key principle is that it is critical to assess the efficacy of instructional materials related to Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) instruction, as well as other areas of professional and research ethics. Ethics CORE is working to incorporate and promote credible models of assessment.

Site Contents
The materials currently on Ethics CORE cover a large and diverse range of needs and disciplines. The site is designed to serve all research areas supported by NSF, and the foundational RCR topics historically covered in graduate courses are covered with both instructional and research-based content. Many of the Ethics CORE resources are generally applicable to most or all fields of science and engineering. Because it is well-established that people typically learn better from materials situated in their own disciplines than from generic ones (even where the ethical scenario content is otherwise identical), the site will continue to add discipline-specific content, both newly developed and some existing materials “translated” into discipline-specific versions. Major areas of current content include the following:

  • Library: Ethics CORE features an online library and portal that gathers information on ethics from academic journals, news articles, curricula, and other sources in one place. The site utilizes sophisticated tools, including federated search technologies, digital preservation software, user ratings and metrics, natural language search and discovery functions, and an online document delivery service to provide users with licensed materials available through the University of Illinois Library system.
  • Instructional Materials: Ethics CORE is enabling contributors to share materials for teaching professional and research ethics, such as course syllabi, text cases with instructors’ guides, video cases with commentaries, and assignments for students. The investigators are also developing new instructional materials based on research-driven pedagogy and innovative uses of technology.
  • Online Forums: Ethics CORE will feature interlocking social networking communities, including those for journal editors, principal investigators, research integrity officers, ethics instructors, students, administrators, researchers, and more. The forums will enable users to network with peers who face similar challenges and to solicit advice on best practices. The aim is to arm professionals and researchers with the support they need to make the right decisions every day.
  • Encyclopedia: An online peer-reviewed encyclopedia of cutting-edge original articles is being created for Ethics CORE; it will cover key topics in professional and research ethics and ethics pedagogy. Currently, 25 articles have been drafted by leading scholars throughout the United States and abroad. The encyclopedia is interactive: authors may update their articles as their field evolves and readers are invited to comment on articles and to contribute related articles of their own, as well as original articles on entirely new topics.
  • Best Practices: Ethics CORE will provide examples of best practices for researchers, administrators, and instructors, such as sample informed consent forms for different kinds of research projects, model procedures for handling allegations of research misconduct, recommended policies for handling plagiarism and duplicate publication in journals, and examples of effective instructional methods.
  • Online Journal: Ethics CORE is launching the new Journal of Professional and Research Ethics (JOPRE) as an outreach effort that will assist in making Ethics CORE a destination site with the most current and interesting information for its audiences. Outstanding encyclopedia submissions will be published as articles in JOPRE.
  • Essay Series: A series of peer-reviewed essays on “Perspectives on Teaching Ethics” is also in progress; six have already been published on the site. We welcome your contributions discussing what you have learned about teaching ethics effectively, what your challenges have been, or a particularly useful approach you have incorporated into your teaching. What should be the balance between online programs and in-person research ethics programs? How can we interest our colleagues in adding ethical discussions to their substantive courses? What resources are most helpful? Please share your views with us.

At the conclusion of the NSF funding, the University of Illinois’s library has committed to incorporating Ethics CORE into its permanent collection and sustaining the resource. This major commitment from one of the world’s largest and best research libraries provides a stability and promise for the future. Please visit the site at http://nationalethicscenter.org/, use the resources, send us comments and consider contributing to Ethics CORE. Our community can be as good as we collectively make it.

Acknowledgments
The Ethics CORE team members are C. K. Gunsalus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Taft H. Broome of Howard University and Nicholas C. Burbules, Michael C. Loui, and William H. Mischo of the University of Illinois.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1045412. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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In the News

Scientific Misconduct in India and a Call for Change

Scientists in India are urging the establishment of an Indian office of research integrity to hold researchers accountable for plagiarism, fraud, and other acts of scientific misconduct. As the number of Indian scientists entering the lab, conducting research, and generating data has multiplied over the last decade, more Indian researchers have also been involved in incidents of fraud, plagiarism, and retraction.

Scientific misconduct in India was at the heart of the “Workshop on Academic Ethics” hosted July 15-16, 2011 by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the Forum for Global Knowledge Sharing. Speakers from around the country convened to discuss the current landscape of scientific misconduct in India and how academic integrity should be addressed on institutional and national levels.

Professor T. A. Abinandanan from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore opened the conference by comparing India’s retraction and fraud rates with those of scientists internationally. Over the ten-year period between 2001 and 2010, Indian researchers demonstrated a misconduct-related retraction rate of 44 per 100,000 published papers compared to the international average of 17 retractions. Abinandanan also pointed out that India’s fraud rate, which includes incidents of plagiarism, is 18 papers per 100,000 compared to 4.5 papers in the United States and 4 papers internationally [1].

Other speakers focused on how the policies and culture of academic research institutions must change in order to stem these trends. Former chairman of the Union Public Service Commission, S.R. Hasim, stressed that academic institutions need to reevaluate their policies for recruitment, promotion, and employment to hold Indian researchers who break the rules accountable for their actions [2].

Another speaker, theoretical physicist Sunil Mukhi from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, agreed. As quoted by the Science and Development Network, Mukhi described how academic institutions consider scientists as family rather than professionals who should conduct themselves according to the standards of academic integrity. As a result, Mukhi observed, “Ethics depend on the quality of leadership of science institutions [3].”

For more information on the speakers and their presentations from the “Workshop on Academic Ethics,” go to http://www.imsc.res.in/~ethicsmeet/

[1] Abinandanan, T.A. “Scientific Misconduct in India: An Analysis of Retracted Papers in PubMed.” Presented at the “Workshop on Academic Ethics” at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the Forum for Global Knowledge Sharing (15-16 July 2011).
[2] Hashim, S. R. “Role of Educational Policies and Social Goals in Promoting Academic Ethics.” Presented at the “Workshop on Academic Ethics” at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the Forum for Global Knowledge Sharing (15-16 July 2011).
[3] Raman, Papri Sri and T. V. Padma. “Indian scientists call for scientific misconduct body.” Science and Development Network. (20 July 2011). http://www.scidev.net/en/news/indian-scientists-call-for-scientific-misconduct-body.html.

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NSF Proposed Merit Review Criteria Revisions

Over the past year, the National Science Board has been conducting a review of the NSF’s merit review criteria for grant proposals. The NSB compiled data from a variety of sources in their review, including senior NSF leadership and a sample of over 8000 of NSF’s Principal Investigators (PIs). As a result of its analysis, the NSB concluded that Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts were the correct criteria, but clarification was needed on the meaning of the two criteria, as well as how they related to the broader mission of NSF. The NSB accepted public comment through 14 July, and the NSB Task Force on Merit Review discussed the criteria and public comments at a 28 July meeting at NSF headquarters [1]. The proposed changes are presented below [2].

Merit Review Principles and Criteria
The identification and description of the merit review criteria are firmly grounded in the following principles:

  1. All NSF projects should be of the highest intellectual merit with the potential to advance the frontiers of knowledge.
  1. Collectively, NSF projects should help to advance a broad set of important national goals, including:
    • Increased economic competitiveness of the United States.
    • Development of a globally competitive STEM workforce.
    • Increased participation of women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities in STEM.
    • Increased partnerships between academia and industry.
    • Improved pre-K – 12 STEM education and teacher development.
    • Improved undergraduate STEM education.
    • Increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology.
    • Increased national security.
    • Enhanced infrastructure for research and education, including facilities, instrumentation, networks and partnerships.
  1. Broader impacts may be achieved through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by the project but ancillary to the research. All are valuable approaches for advancing important national goals.
  1. Ongoing application of these criteria should be subject to appropriate assessment developed using reasonable metrics over a period of time.

Intellectual merit of the proposed activity
The goal of this review criterion is to assess the degree to which the proposed activities will advance the frontiers of knowledge. Elements to consider in the review are:

  1. What role does the proposed activity play in advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields?
  2. To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  3. How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity?
  4. How well qualified is the individual or team to conduct the proposed research?
  5. Is there sufficient access to resources?

Broader impacts of the proposed activity
The purpose of this review criterion is to ensure the consideration of how the proposed project advances a national goal(s). Elements to consider in the review are:

  1. Which national goal (or goals) is (or are) addressed in this proposal? Has the PI presented a compelling description of how the project or the PI will advance that goal(s)?
  2. Is there a well-reasoned plan for the proposed activities, including, if appropriate, department-level or institutional engagement?
  3. Is the rationale for choosing the approach well-justified? Have any innovations been incorporated?
  4. How well qualified is the individual, team, or institution to carry out the proposed broader impacts activities?
  5. Are there adequate resources available to the PI or institution to carry out the proposed activities?

[1] http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=121170
[2] http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/publications/2011/06_mrtf.jsp

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HHS Releases Final Rule on Financial Conflicts of Interest

Two years after the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was announced in May 2009 [1], the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its final rule on financial conflicts of interest (FCOI). The revised regulations apply to Institutions and Investigators that receive Public Health Service (PHS) funding for behavioral and biomedical research [2]. FCOIs are defined by the regulations as a “significant financial interest that could directly and significantly affect the design, conduct or reporting of PHS funded research.”

The change in regulations comes at a time when the relationship between academic research and industry grows ever more complex. The final rule reads, “increased interaction among Government, research Institutions, and the private sector in attaining common public health goals while meeting public health expectations for research integrity; as well as increased public scrutiny, all have raised questions as to whether a more rigorous approach to Investigator disclosure, institutional management of financial conflicts, and Federal oversight is required.” The regulations shift some of the burden of reporting from Institutions to Investigators, while increasing transparency and accountability within the research enterprise. The final rule was released on August 25, 2011, and will replace the existing PHS regulations that have been in effect since 1995.

The revised regulations include clarification of existing language as well as the addition and revision of common term definitions. The regulations revise the definition of significant financial interests (SFIs), by reducing the reporting requirement for SFIs from $10,000 to $5,000, and excluding the disclosure of income from seminars, lectures, or teaching, or for travel reimbursement from federal, state, or local governments, teaching hospitals, medical centers, or research institutes affiliated with an Institution of higher education. Other changes include,

  • Increased transparency: Institutions must make their FCOI policy publicly available on their Institution’s web site. However, if an institution does not have a web site, they must provide a written copy of their policy within five days of any public request.
  • Implementation of a new training requirement: Investigators must complete Institution-specific FCOI training prior to engaging in any PHS funded research, and at least every four years thereafter.
  • Requirements for subrecipients: Institutions that conduct research through a subrecipient must have a written agreement in place detailing which Institution’s FCOI policy will apply to the subrecipient.
  • Expanded requirement for Investigator reporting: Investigators must disclose any SFI related to their Institutional responsibilities by the time of application for PHS funded research. The previous regulations only required Investigators to report SFIs that were project specific.
  • Institutional responsibilities regarding management and reporting of FCOI: prior to the expenditure of any PHS funds, an Institution must review Investigator SFIs; determine whether they are related to the funded research; determine whether an FCOI exists; and if so, develop and implement a management plan.
  • Requirement of retrospective review: Within 120 days of the discovery of an undisclosed Investigator SFI or FCOI, an Institution must conduct and document a review of the Investigator’s activities and the research project to determine if there was bias in the design, conduct or reporting of the research. If bias is found, the Institution is obligated to notify the PHS Awarding Component and to submit a mitigation report.

The revised regulations have been criticized for backing away from the original public reporting requirements proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [3] [4]. The original proposal included a requirement that all incidents of Investigator FCOI or existing SFIs be made available to the public on the Institution’s web site. After review of public comments, it was decided that Institutions must instead make that information available either online or provide it in writing within five business days of a public request. Furthermore, the information must remain up-to-date for at least three years.

In response to a number of requests, HHS has agreed to develop better guidance and a list of Frequently Asked Questions to be available on the NIH Financial Conflicts of Interest web site[5] [6]. The HHS plans to review the of the regulations, specifically the disclosure and reporting requirements, within three years. The final rule went into effect on September 26, 2011, but Institutions applying for or receiving funding from the PHS have until August 24, 2012 to be in full compliance.

[1]Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. May 8, 2009. http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-10666.pdf
[2] Responsibility of Applicants for Promoting Objectivity in Research for which Public Health Service Fungin is Sought and Responsible Prospective Contractors. Department of Health and Human Services. Final Rule. http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/coi/fcoi_final_rule.pdf
[3] Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. May 21, 2010. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-05-21/pdf/2010-11885.pdf
[4] http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110801/full/476017a.html
[5] http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/coi/
[6] Frequently Asked Questions http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/coi/coi_faqs.htm

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Legal Battle Over Subpoenas Issued to Boston College Research Team

A battle ensues in U.S. District Court in Boston over a subpoena issued to Boston College by the U.S. Department of Justice. The information sought is part of an oral history project called the Belfast Project, conducted by researchers at the Center for Irish Programs at Boston College [1]. The project was conducted in Belfast from 2001 to 2006, at the end of the Ulster Troubles. The interview subjects ranged from IRA commanders, to loyalist party members, to paramilitary fighters from both sides of the conflict. Boston College researchers assured each interview subject that their words and voices would remain completely confidential until either the subject granted express permission, or they passed away.

In May of this year, Boston College was served with a secret, sealed subpoena by the U.S. Justice Department, to deliver any and all materials relating to two interview subjects from the Belfast Project, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price. The subpoena was issued pursuant to a United States-United Kingdom Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). In an MLAT, two governments agree to assist each other by providing information relating to a legal matter when it is requested. Boston College delivered the materials relating to Brendan Hughes, who passed away in 2008. However, Boston College filed a motion to quash the subpoena in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts in the matter of Dolours Price, who is still alive.

In Boston College’s motion [2], they argue several alternative legal theories. The first rests on a balancing test articulated in a 1998 1st Circuit decision, Cusumano v. Microsoft Corp [3]. In Cusumano, the Court balanced the interests of academic researchers who wish to keep their research confidential, and those who would seek by force of subpoena to have it divulged. Boston College argues that in the interest of continued peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland, as well as in the interest of the privacy and integrity of academic research, especially oral history projects, the balance tips in their favor. In the second argument, Boston College expounds on the importance of academic privilege, acknowledging that although not legally recognized, it is the basis for much important scholarship. If researchers cannot offer any semblance of confidentiality to their research subjects, people will no longer reveal information, much the same as journalists seeking to protect a confidential source guarantee privacy. Finally, Boston College argues that there is real risk of harm to Dolours Price if her interview testimony is revealed. A code of silence is enforced by the IRA, and as a former member, there would likely be retribution, perhaps even violent, against Price for telling her story about her involvement in criminal activity as an IRA agent.

In response to Boston College’s motion to quash, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued an opposition statement, as well as a motion for an order to compel [4]. The DOJ states the case is very simple. Boston College researchers made promises to research subjects that they couldn’t keep. Whether the subpoena had been issued in a domestic grand jury investigation, or as a treaty obligation to a foreign government (as is the case here), there is no such thing as academic privilege. Furthermore, DOJ argues the MLAT narrowly confines the jurisdiction of the court, which could only quash the subpoena if it would violate the U.S. Constitution, or if it would violate federally recognized testimonial privilege [5]. Unlike the Cusumano case, which involved a civil discovery request, this case involves an international treaty obligation in a criminal investigation. So, even if the court were to engage in the balancing test as Petitioners suggest, the interests of international cooperation outweigh enforcing an ‘ill-advised’ promise of confidentiality made by an academic to his research subject [6]. Finally, DOJ cautions the Court about violating the MLAT, since the U.S. will likely need information from the U.K. government regarding a domestic legal matter sometime in the future, and cannot afford to be seen as uncooperative in our international treaty obligations on this (or any other) matter.

The motions await ruling by a judge in the District Court of Massachusetts. Either way, the case will have very important implications for academic researchers in every field, not just those engaged in oral history work.

[1] http://www.bc.edu/centers/irish/studies.html
[2] Petitioner’s Motion, M.B.D. No. 11-MC-91078, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, 2011.
[3] 162 F.3d 708 (1998)
[4] Respondent’s Motion, M.B.D. No. 11-MC-91078-RGS, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, 2011.
[5] Respondent’s Motion at 8.
[6] Respondent’s Motion at 21.

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In the Societies

Lawyers Adopt Resolution on Genetic Testing

At its August 2011 annual meeting in Toronto, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution on the use of predictive and diagnostic medical genetic tests. The resolution urges governments to implement a set of requirements incorporating protections for consumers and standards for companies. Among these requirements, governments should ensure that genetic tests are performed only in appropriately licensed facilities, and that test results are reviewed by health care personnel according to professional standards before they are conveyed back to consumers. Consumers should be informed of test results so they are able to fully grasp the scientific validity, scope, and limitations of the test. They should be able to understand “in plain English” the full range of medical implications of their results. Furthermore, consumers should be “advised regarding potential disclosure of their personal information,” and guaranteed appropriate privacy measures to protect personal health information. Likewise, governments should ensure that information provided to consumers by genetic testing companies is “truthful, accurate, and not misleading.”Should companies fail to deliver on this requirement, the resolution urges governments to “take action against” these companies.

To view the resolution, go to: http://www.abanow.org/wordpress/wp-content/files_flutter/1312837445114REV.pdf

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U.K Academy of Medical Sciences Reports on Research With Animals Containing Human Materials

The British Academy of Medical Sciences recently evaluated the ethical and regulatory implications of a traditional technique in biological research that has undergone major developments in the last few years: the use of animals containing human materials (ACHM).

ACHM involves incorporating human cells or genetic information into animals to make their physiological processes mimic those of humans more closely. While animal modeling has been a long-established tool of biological research, advances in the sophistication of ACHM have made animal modeling even more useful when developing diagnostics and drugs targeted towards human diseases. For example, researchers can now study cancer with mice infected with human tumors, blood clotting disorders with goats producing human anti-thrombin protein, and HIV with mice whose immune systems have been reconstituted with human cells [1].

While these advancements in animal modeling have exciting implications for medicine, there are concerns that ACHM techniques threaten established ethical and regulatory principles in animal research. In response, the Academy organized a working group of academics, government representatives, animal welfare advocates, and industry experts to investigate the ethical and regulatory consequences of ACHM. The working group published its report in July 2011.

The Academy’s working group concluded that the majority of current ACHM research falls within the accepted ethical and regulatory bounds of animal research standards in the U.K. However, the working group also emphasized that future uses of ACHM may be more difficult to classify as ethically permissible. To illustrate this point, the group identified three areas of biomedical research where the ethical implications of emerging ACHM techniques are less clear. These areas included: research in neuroscience, where human brain functions such as consciousness may be mimicked in animals; research in reproductive biology, where human eggs may be fertilized in animals; and research that causes animals to develop distinctively human physical traits such as the growth of human limbs [2].

The working group recommended the establishment of a national expert body to advise governments and research institutions on how to evaluate and regulate emerging ACHM techniques. This national expert body would be one piece of a larger regulatory approach for ACHM experiments. The report outlined three categories of regulation to indicate how the United Kingdom should approach ACHM for the future: (1) regulation using current animal research standards when the use of ACHM is ethically straightforward; (2) regulation under the oversight of the suggested national expert body if ACHM research raises ethical concerns; or (3) suspension of research in cases where ACHM use cannot be ethically justified.

In addition to these regulatory recommendations, the report described the importance of engaging in a dialogue with the public and the scientific community when evaluating ACHM in research. The working group explained that transparency in regulation will preserve trust between the public and the scientific community while ensuring that regulatory bodies are held accountable for their decisions.

The report also described the importance of involving the global community in discussing the ethical and regulatory implications of ACHM because scientific research is fundamentally a collaborative international effort. The Academy of Medical Sciences urged bioethics institutes, policy makers, medical research councils, and scientists around the world to engage in a discussion with one another to determine consistent standards for the use of ACHM.

To download the full report, “Animals Containing Human Material,” go to http://www.acmedsci.ac.uk/publications

[1] The Academy of Medical Sciences. “Academy calls for additional oversight of sensitive research using animals containing human material.” Media Release. (22 July 2011).
[2] The Academy of Medical Sciences. Animals Containing Human Material: Report Synopsis. (July 2011).

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Resources

New Non-Profit Organization: Bioethics Beyond Borders

An international team of bioethics experts has helped to establish the new non-profit organization Bioethics Beyond Borders, whose aim is to address the pressing bioethics issues throughout the world. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA in the Center for Healthcare Ethics at Duquesne University, the organization’s mission is to “bring together bioethicists, academics, health professionals and policymakers to volunteer worldwide to promote the application of a human rights based approach to bioethics around the world [1].”

The Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, which was unanimously adopted by the Member States of UNESCO [2], outlines a standard set of bioethics principles. The Declaration was developed in response to the globalization of scientific research, and the need for universal bioethical standards for human rights. There is not, however, a mechanism in place to make certain those standards are upheld in the various countries. Bioethics Beyond Borders will utilize the knowledge of its expert collaborators to ensure that the framework of bioethics principles outlined by the Declaration are implemented and enforced, specifically with respect to healthcare and health research. Associate experts will identify cases and issues specific to their country, evaluate and monitor bioethics developments, and highlight problematic cases that may arise. Resource experts will then help to formulate responses, offer ethical guidance and recommendations to the various countries, and encourage public debate on the issues.

For more information, visit:www.bioethicsbeyondborders.org.
[1] http://www.duq.edu/healthcare-ethics/BBB/mission.cfm
[2] http://www.unesco.org/new/en/social-and-human-sciences/themes/bioethics/bioethics-and-human-rights/

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UNESCO Bioethics Core Curriculum Series

The UNESCO Division of Ethics of Science and Technology has released three new additions to the UNESCO Bioethics Core Curriculum. The Core Curriculum, an element of UNESCO’s bioethics education resources, was developed by a group of ethics teaching experts, and is based on the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights adopted in October 2005[1].The Curriculum is intended for use at the University level to introduce bioethical principles of the Declaration to students, particularly where no bioethics curriculum exists. It articulates ethical principles that are shared by scientific experts, policymakers and health professionals from various countries with different cultural, historical, and religious backgrounds.

Of the newest additions, a second section has been created for the Core Curriculum: Section 2 Study Materials. This section is intended to serve as a framework for teachers to adapt. It includes material from UNESCO and other international organizations, but will be revised frequently to incorporate new materials from around the world. UNESCO has also published two supplements to its Bioethics Core Curriculum Casebook Series, which is designed to be used with the Core Curriculum, or as stand-alone study material for one of the bioethical principles in the Declaration. The most recent additions include, the Casebook on Human Dignity and Human Rights, and the Casebook on Benefit and Harm.

To receive hardcopies and/or CD-ROMs of the casebooks, please send an email to geobs@unesco.org with your mailing address and the number of copies of each item. Electronic copies of the casebooks and the core curriculum are available for download as follows:

UNESCO Bioethics Core Curriculum Section 1 (Syllabus):
Arabic: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0016/001636/163613a.pdf
English: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0016/001636/163613e.pdf
French: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0016/001636/163613f.pdf
Russian: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0016/001636/163613r.pdf
Spanish: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0016/001636/163613s.pdf

UNESCO Bioethics Core Curriculum Section 2 (Study Materials):
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002109/210933E.pdf

Casebook on Human Dignity and Human Rights:
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001923/192371e.pdf

Casebook on Benefit and Harm:
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001923/192370e.pdf

[1] http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=31058&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

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Announcements

Call for Papers – The Association for Practical and Professional Ethics invites paper, presentation, and discussion submissions for its 21st Annual Meeting. The meeting will take place March 1-4, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Submissions are invited on applied ethical issues in all fields, as well as cross-cutting multi-disciplinary topics. The deadline for submission is October 14, 2011. All paper submissions should be mailed to: APPE@indiana.edu. For additional information, see: http://www.indiana.edu/~appe/callforpapers.html

Conference – The International Center for Academic Integrity will host its 2011 Annual International Conference on Academic Integrity, October 14-16 in Markham, Canada. This year’s theme is, Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Revisiting & Reviving the Fundamental Values of Integrity. For more information about the conference, visit: http://www.academicintegrity.org/conferences/2011_Conference/. Or email, CAI-L@clemson.edu.

Conference – The Bucharest Conference in Applied Ethics, “Ethical Aspects of Emerging Technologies,” will be held October 28-29, 2011. The location of the conference is currently TBA. The aim of the conference is to bridge the academic sector with the economic and research sectors, and to discover the ways ethical evaluation can lead to smoother acceptance of those technologies that best respond to our common ethical concerns. To read more about the conference, visit: http://www.bcae.ro/2011_cfp.php

Conference – PRIM&R and Boston University’s conference on “Advancing Ethical Research: Harmonizing Ethics, Regulations & Research” will be held December 2-4, 2011 in National Harbor, Maryland. A series of pre-conference educational programs will be available on December 1. To register, go to: http://www.primr.org/Conferences.aspx?id=10465. To learn more about the conference, see: http://www.primr.org/Conferences.aspx?id=11065

Conference – The U.S. Office of Research Integrity’s Quest for Research Excellence 2011 Conference has been rescheduled. The conference will be held in Washington, DC on March 15-16, 2012. For more information, go to: http://www.regonline.com/builder/site/default.aspx?EventID=972393

Essay Contest – The Biological Weapons Convention seeks entries for the Young Scientist Essay Contest. Entrants are asked to submit an 800 word original essay on responsible conduct in the life sciences, the importance of safety and security as well as the role for international collaboration.. The winner will receive a glass microbe sculpture from renowned artist Luke Jerram, www.lukejerram.com/glass. The author of the winning entry will also be invited on an all expenses paid trip to Geneva, Switzerland, to read their essay to the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention on December 5, 2011. Entries should be submitted before November 1, 2011 to: bwc@unog.ch. For more information, go to: www.unog.ch/bwc/contest

Fellowship – The National Institutes of Health Department of Bioethics is seeking applications for a two-year postdoctoral bioethics fellowship to begin in September 2012. Fellows will conduct mentored theoretical and empirical research in the ethics of health policy, international research ethics, human subject research, genetics, and other fields of interest. Fellows will also participate in case conferences, ethics consultations, review of research protocols, bioethics seminars, and many other educational opportunities. Applications must be received by December 31, 2011. To submit an application, or for more information, contact Becky Chen at bchen@cc.nih.gov; 301-496-2429. For further details about the fellowship, visit: www.bioethics.nih.gov

Fellowship – The Cleveland Clinic is currently accepting applications for the Cleveland Fellowship in Advanced Bioethics. Participants in the two-year program will take part in public bioethics education as well as clinical ethics consultation, and will have firsthand research experience. Applications will be considered from professionals with terminal post-graduate degrees in medicine, philosophy, nursing, social work, religious studies, law, or other fields related to the practice of clinical and academic bioethics. The deadline for applications is December 15, 2011. The new class of fellows will begin on July 1, 2012. Contact: Mary Adams, adamsm@ccf.org ; 216-445-2739. For more information, or to access the online application, see: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/bioethics/fellowship

Fellowship – The Princeton University Center for Human Values invites applications for the Harold T. Shapiro Postdoctoral Fellowship in Bioethics. The Fellowship supports outstanding scholars studying ethical issues arising from developments in medicine or the biological sciences. The Fellow will spend from one to three years at Princeton conducting research and teaching the equivalent of one course each year. He or she will participate in the Ira W. DeCamp Seminar in Bioethics and will be invited to participate in other activities of the University Center for Human Values, including a year-long research seminar for visiting fellows and Center faculty. Applicants must have completed all the requirements for the Ph.D., M.D., or other equivalent doctoral degree by September 1, 2012, and must not have held the degree for more than three years by September 1, 2012. The term of the fellowship is one year, beginning September 1, 2012, with the possibility of extension for up to two further years. Applications are due November 7, 2011 online to http://jobs.princeton.edu, requisition #0110370.For more information about the fellowship and full application details, visit http://uchv.princeton.edu.

Fellowship – The Princeton University Center for Human Values invites applications from scholars in all disciplines for the Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellowships for the academic year 2012-13. Fellows devote an academic year in residence at Princeton to research and writing about ethics and human values. Candidates should have a doctorate or equivalent professional degree and a strong record of research publications appropriate to their stage of career. Typically fellows hold faculty appointments at other institutions; in exceptional cases we will consider applications from independent scholars when there is a high level of scholarly achievement. For fellowships beginning in September 2012, applicants must submit their materials by Monday, November 7, 2011, to http://jobs.princeton.edu, requisition #0110371. For more information about the fellowship and full application details, visit http://uchv.princeton.edu.

Funding Opportunity – The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences and the Office of Research Integrity are seeking applications for an R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award. The award is aimed at research that will improve understanding of research integrity, both in the laboratory and in the field. Applications for funding opportunity number RFA-ES-11-009 are due by December 1, 2011. To view the full Funding Opportunity Announcement, go to: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-ES-11-009.html

Lecture Series – The Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State and the Bioethics Program at University Park invite you to join the 2011-2012 Food Ethics Lecture Series. The series explores some of the most compelling issues in food ethics today-from the agrarian tradition to industrial farming, from the ethics of nutrigenomics to food safety and food security, from fish in pain to the fish on your plate. The lectures can be viewed live on the web, and questions can be submitted in real time to the speakers. The series will run from August 29, 2011- March 19, 2012. For a list of all the lectures, go to:http://rockethics.psu.edu/bioethics/events/food1112.shtml

Position Available – The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) seeks an experienced Senior Program Associate to support and facilitate key initiatives of the Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program. The Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program addresses ethical, legal and human rights issues related to the conduct and application of science and technology. For more information about the position, see: https://www.irecruit-us.com/index.php?OrgID=I20090201&pg=listings#job2

Visiting Scholar – The Ethics Institute at Dartmouth College seeks applicants for a visiting scholar position. There is one opening per term (fall, winter or spring) with potential for multiple terms, up to one year. Monetary compensation is not awarded for this position, but an office and full use of the libraries, and access to faculty working in related fields is available. The Ethics Institute is seeking a candidate who is currently engaged in an applied ethics research project. Contact the Ethics Institute Director, Aine Donovan at aine.donovan@dartmouth.edu for more details.

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