The state legislature is poised to take an important step towards protecting the safety of research subjects in the Department of Psychiatry. As usual, the U's administration is opposing it.
A bipartisan group of legislators think the Ombudsman for Mental Health and Disabilities should monitor the U's psychiatric research studies. This was the recommendation of the Legislative Auditor's report last year. A summary of the bill reads:
"The Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities acts on behalf of persons who receive services and treatment for mental illness, developmental disabilities, chemical dependency, or emotional disturbance. In this role, the ombudsman may, on behalf of a person receiving services, accept complaints, act as an advocate, or investigate the actions of an agency, facility, or program. This bill would expand the role of the ombudsman to include oversight of the treatment of individuals who are enrolled in clinical drug trials at the University of Minnesota Department of Psychiatry."
"A special review of a clinical drug study at the University of Minnesota Department of Psychiatry was conducted by the Office of the Legislative Auditor. In the March 19, 2015, report, the auditor recommended that the legislature should enact legislation to authorize the Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities to monitor individuals who are enrolled in Department of Psychiatry clinical drug trials."
For reasons that seem to change by the week, the U is opposing the bill. (You can listen to VP for Research Brian Herman testify at the April 13, 2016 hearing at this link, at approximately 28 minutes in.)
This is an important bill and would represent a genuine step forward for the U. Please let your legislators know that you support it.