Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Research Practices and Beyond! - Group 1

Glenn McGee uses researcher Hwang's mistake has an initiation for the conversation on responsible research. I think that he is a little heavy with placing blame on science students regarding unethical decisions.  It seems to me that if someone has made it to the position of researcher it is likely that they understand right from wrong and should not have to look to their boss, like a child to parent, on such a basic skill. Someone who is going to make the unethical decision of lying about results is likely to do it regardless of what their boss says. Kamron and Alex make good points too, in that NEW students should be engaged in critical thinking regarding research ethics.  

I think we can all agree that if someone is looking to one's management for guidance on their moral compass as an adult, they have probably missed something essential as a child. 

The group discussed other topics as well, and to keep from making this post a short novel I'll simply post them as my notes read from the discussion. Others can comment if they'd like regarding each. 

It seems that we, as a societal collective, are becoming more a group of dependents rather than givers. 

Our country seems like it has a deep crack in its moral foundation. This is easy to see and have access to because of the media's love for airing immorality. It affects the attitude of many who see these types of actions on a daily basis; they may want to "act out" in order to get their own "fame". 

It is important to continue to think about those that are actually surviving thanks to the government's interventions rather than those that seek out easy alternatives and hand outs. 

Physicians are expected to be ethically elite and provide services that, at the base of the decision, are a simple, true good for their fellow man.  However, through out history, society has witnessed physicians who perform unethical procedures, in some cases with ill will.  In fact, there have been murderous doctors.  Sometimes I think it is easy to forget that medical professionals are people that struggle daily with ethical decisions in the same way you or I do. Should the existence of bad medicine break down patient confidence in all physicians or should we be able to continue to keep our romantic ideals of medicine when we enter the healthcare system?  The group discussed how this question affects patients in every decision and the practice of "Defensive Medicine" often becomes a waste of resources as physicians have to be weary of pleasing patients to avoid claims of malpractice. 



  1. Defensive medicine, at least in the primary care fields, is becoming an all too serious issue. As mentioned before, the 11+ years physicians spend training and earning certifications can come crashing down (reputation wise) by the mere dissatisfaction of a few patients. This ties in deeply with the practice of delayed gratification that Americans are losing rapidly. We live in an "I want it now" culture and medicine is no different we are beginning to see.

  2. "if someone is looking to one's management for guidance on their moral compass as an adult, they have probably missed something essential as a child" -

    No doubt. But the Hwang case shows there are prominent researchers who do need guidance. You're right, though, the ultimate solution is not strict oversight but a culture of research integrity. I wonder if Hwang took a course in Bioethics?

  3. "I wonder if Hwang took a course in Bioethics?"

    I'm not sure if Hwang took a course on bioethics but I would wager that he DID take a course on business.

    Mixing profit with science is the WORST thing that ever happened to modern science research. Biomedical scientists that are motivated by profit no longer use the morbidities of our species to dictate their actions and define their goals but instead are led by the potential for profit from product.

    It is inevitable, in a capitalist society that "treatments" will be "products". There will always be profit and loss. The "romantic" view of science, that it should remain untainted by the greed and selfishness that are dissolving the foundation of our great nation has been replaced by a "sexy" view of science with promise of fame and riches. A cure for cancer becomes a multi-billion dollar asset rather than a vanquishment of the most elusive killer known to man.
    As long as the world's largest pharmaceutical companies are publically traded and non-scientist investors are given say in to what elements of research funding should be allocated based on financial gain and potential for profit, then an unbiased approach to our amelioration cannot exist.

    We, as researchers, must blind our eyes to potential for profit and focus entirely on the most efficient and accessable ways of improving the quality of life of our fellow humans.

    The acquisition of funding is a different story altogether...
    A prerequisite to academic research should be a class on NIH grant writing...

  4. I don't think it's necessarily right to do so only for profit, however, money makes the world go around and I find it hard to believe without some type of motivation or acknowledgement that we would h e come this far in science.

  5. I would say greatest motivator is death. That is what spurred the genesis of medicine and biomedical research to begin with.

    But Rebekah brings up a good point. Moderation is everything and by instating across-the-board rules that eliminate all profit could result in slowed progress due to lack of financial incentive, as ugly as that sounds. Finding that balance is what makes this such a great bioethics debate.

    I, personally, believe that profit should have no place in biomedical research that is funded by the federal government. It limits what other research institiutions can accomplish and the tools they have at their disposal when faced with exhausting licensing processes.
    The National Institutes of Health feel the same way:

    The hyperlink below shows just one example of how profit is impeding biomedical research in the industry.
    Here's an excerpt:

    The NIH Working Group
    recommended that the NIH
    use its considerable clout
    as the principal source of
    funds for basic biomedical
    research to limit, as far as
    possible, the enforcement
    of intellectual property
    rights on research tools
    as a means for private
    financial gain.

    Nature Biotechnology 17, 819 - 820 (1999)

    Taking the profit out of biomedical research tools
    Mauricio A. Flores

    Abstract: National Institutes of Health proposal will restrict the licensing of Federally funded biomedical research tools for commercial gain.

    1.Mauricio A. Flores is a partner at Campbell & Flores LLP, 4370 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite 700, San Diego, CA 92122
    (e-mail: mflores@candf.com).


    My collegues and I have run into this problem before and it is just silly.