Sixth Annual Fall Ethics Symposium

Dimensions of Ethics in Research

This year’s Annual Fall Ethics Symposium is focused on the topic of ethics in research, broadly construed. In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in cases of research misconduct (WSJ article). Retractions by reputable international journals in all disciplines have increased for everything from misrepresentation of data, data fabrication, to outright plagiarism, prompting the creation of a blog to track all the retractions (RetractionWatch).

At the same time, universities and institutions have been more diligent in providing on-site training in responsible conduct of research methods. Federal and private funding agencies have made grants available to implement and institute, as permanent features of degree programs, instruction in research ethics and integrity. Enforcement efforts have been better funded than previosuly. Institutional Review Boards (IRBs, charged with the review of research protocols for protection of human subjects) and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees (IACUCs, charged with similar review of research conducted on non-human animals) are better supported both by the institutions in which they are housed, by the relevant federal agencies, and by research practitioners.

What is going on with all this bad behaviour, you may ask? We wondered the same thing, and thought this might be a perfect opportunity to explore some of the issues involved in research ethics and integrity. This symposium brings together experts from areas of enforcement and oversight, policy development and implementation, hospital and university IRBs, and ethics instruction, to share their insights, discuss the problems, and work toward solutions.

Please join the conversation!

As always, this event is free and open to the public. We especially welcome our colleagues and community members active in research, health care, and education to participate!

The Symposium will take place at the Sacramento State Campus.

Directions and Campus Map.

Symposium Program (Tentative, as of Sept 8)

Tuesday, 20 September, 2011
Ballroom III, University Union

8:00am-8:30am Morning Refreshments, Coffee/Tea

8:30am Opening Remarks
Dr. Christina M. Bellon, Director, Center for Practical and Professional Ethics
Dr. Joe Sheley, Provost, Sacramento State
Dr. Celia Esposito-Noy, Vice-President, Cosumnes River College 

9:00am Keynote Address
Dr. Christine Grady, Deputy & Acting Chief, Head of the Section on Human Subjects Research, Department of Bioethics, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health

Ethics and Research: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Abstract: I will begin by discussing why ethics is important to research and the principles that guide ethical research. I will then give examples of research misconduct and wrongdoing, and end by suggesting ways to minimize scientific misconduct and promote scientific integrity and the responsible conduct of research. 

Biographical Information.

10:30am Invited Address
Dr. Mark Yarborough, Dean's Professor of Bioethics, Program of Bioethics, University of California, Davis, Medical Center

What is Trustworthy Science and What Practices Contribute to It?

Abstract: Everyone recognizes that the amount of public trust there is in the science enterprise establishes the pace and scope of that enterprise. If there is too little trust, then the resources required by science, such as tax dollars, charitable contributions, or volunteers to clinical trials, diminish and then science stalls. Out of recognition of this link between public trust and scientific progress, science leaders across the globe have undertaken initiatives to build public trust in science. What has received much too little emphasis to date in these initiatives is learning what counts as science that is worthy of the public trust the scientific community continuously solicits. It is one thing to desire and solicit trust but it is an altogether different thing to deserve trust. This presentation will discuss what can be considered to be characteristics of trustworthy science and explore practices that either increase or diminish the chances that these characteristics are present in various aspects of the scientific research enterprise. 

Biographical Information.

11:45am-1:15pm Lunch Break
Please visit one of the dining establishments serving campus, either in the Union or at the Riverfront Center.

1:30pm Panel I: Research Methods and Misconduct
A/ Dr. Craig Weiner, MD, Institutional Review Board Chair, Catholic Healthcare West, Sacramento-Sierra Regional IRB

Pills, Potions, and the Wizard of Oz

Abstract: A discussion of the history behind the most prescribed and used medication in history, the mechanism of action and reasons for its success, and the ethics of use in today’s medical armamentarium.

Biographical Information: Dr. Weiner has been a Sacramento resident since coming to Northern California to attend UC Davis Medical School.  Since he didn’t graduate from UCLA, he had to graduate or work at Taco Bell.  After residency at UC Davis in Nuclear Medicine, he started Nuclear Physicians Medical Group IN 1981, providing nuclear medicine professional services for the Mercy Hospitals in the Sacramento.  He started as an IRB Chair in 1987 (yes, before the DHHS Common Rule was formally adopted in 1991), and is now Chair for 10 CHW hospitals and facilities in California and Nevada, as well as several private, non-CHW organizations including Radiological Associates of California, the PET Center and BloodSource.  He enjoys scuba diving, vintage cars and long walks on the beach at sunset (LOL).

B/ Robert V. Doyle, Bioethics Institute, Loyola Marymount University

Understanding Research Misconduct: Case Studies and Concepts

Abstract: All researchers are expected to work honestly, accurately, efficiently, and objectively. However, as the three cases studies (Milgrim, 1963; Tearoom Trade, 1965 – 1968; Wilson, 1999) incorporated into this presentation demonstrate, this is not always the case. Research misconduct may occur when fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism of propositions for research, performance in research, the review of research, or the reporting of research occurs. This presentation explores these particular areas as well as the mechanisms in place to safeguard against misconduct. One such safeguard is the Office of Research Integrity, established in 1992, which is charged with promoting guidelines for assessing possible research misconduct in clinical research and clinical trials. This includes rules, regulations, and professional practices that define responsible conduct for research. This presentation examines these concepts in the context of the law, non-binding codes, and guidelines. Additionally, participants will explore content areas in which responsible research should take place. Further attention will be paid to the role that institutions play in research. Lastly, the presentation will review existing data on occurrences of research misconduct and examine additional concerns researchers may face in the future.

Biographical Information: Robert V. Doyle is Graduate Program Director and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Bioethics Institute at Loyola Marymount University (LMU).  Robert is currently working on a PhD in Theology and Religion at Claremont Graduate University. Additionally, he has earned an M.A. in Bioethics at LMU and an M.A. in Theology (also at LMU).  Robert has taught courses in bioethics, philosophy and theology at both the undergraduate and graduate level.  In addition, Robert has published on issues related to health care ethics, and presents regularly at national conferences on ethics and theology.

3:00pm Panel II: Teaching Research Ethics
Dr. John R. Mahoney, Biology and Chair IRB, California State University, Chico
Dr. Becky Cox White, Philosophy, California State University, Chico

Pedagogical and Moral Obligations to Undergraduate Students in Human Subject Research

Abstract: : In this paper we describe CSU Chico’s atypical approach to undergraduates using humans in data-gathering projects—specifically, the university’s requirement that undergraduates submit their research proposals to HSRC and, in select cases, appear before the full HSRC Board to explain and justify their use of humans in research. We argue, first, that this uncommon approach is a pedagogical obligation faculty have to their undergraduate students and, second, that the approach is a moral obligation that is supported by the appeals to (1) professional integrity (of faculty members to their students and to their professions; (2) to the right to not be harmed without one’s autonomous consent (as applicable to the research subjects, the researchers, and the university itself); and (3) to maximizing utility for subjects of research, student researchers, faculty advisors, the university, and communities in which research institutions reside.

Biographical Information, Mahoney.

Biographical Information, Cox White.

4:30pm Reception
All participants and audience members are encouraged to join us for a reception, where we can continue the conversation over light refreshments.