Saturday, May 14, 2022

“[Jim Wilson] is the most powerful person on campus. He is untouchable. That’s the way to think about it. They are untouchable."

 You remember James Wilson. He was the man behind one of the most notorious research scandals of the modern era: the gene therapy trial that killed Jesse Gelsinger at the University of Pennsylvania. Over twenty years later, Penn's student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, is alleging that Wilson's Gene Therapy Program is a toxic, dysfunctional workplace and that the administration is covering up the problems in order to keep the external research dollars flowing in. 

The stories are complicated, but you can find a good summary with links at the  the Center for Genetics and Society.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Sheldon Krimsky, 1941-2022

From the New York Times:

Sheldon Krimsky, a leading scholar of environmental ethics who explored issues at the nexus of science, ethics and biotechnology, and who warned of the perils of private companies underwriting and influencing academic research, died on April 23 in Cambridge, Mass. He was 80.

Tufts University has also posted a tribute.

You know what homeless people really need?

 Mindfulness training and gentle yoga.

Monday, May 2, 2022

FDA refuses to disqualify HCMC researchers for forced ketamine experiments

 From Public Citizen:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 28 denied Public Citizen’s petition asking the agency to disqualify emergency department researchers at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) in Minneapolis, Minn. who repeatedly tested the dangerous general anesthetic ketamine and other powerful sedatives on agitated patients without their consent. Public Citizen had urged the FDA to direct HCMC to contact the more than 1,700 patients who were unwittingly enrolled in unethical experiments to inform them that their rights were violated and health potentially endangered by the researchers. Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, released the following statement:

“The FDA’s failure to seriously sanction HCMC researchers sends a clear signal to the research community and public that the agency is not serious about protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects. Over a four-year period, HCMC researchers engaged in a pattern of repetitive egregious violations of federal regulations intended to protect human research subjects. The FDA should have required the hospital to contact the more than 1,700 patients who were unwittingly enrolled in unethical experiments and inform them that their rights were violated and that their health was potentially endangered by the medical center’s researchers.

“The case for the FDA disqualifying the HCMC researchers is overwhelming. The FDA’s slap-on-the-wrist approach to such appalling regulatory and ethical violations risks emboldening other researchers to disregard the rights and welfare of human subjects.”

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

St Olaf professor removed as director after hosting a controversial philosopher

This kind of thing is becoming disturbingly common. 

From Reason:

The Institute invited Princeton philosopher Peter Singer to give a public lecture on his views regarding contemporary moral philosophy. Singer is a controversial figure, and some students launched a petition calling for a boycott of his talk at St. Olaf. Several offices on campus set out emails to students distancing themselves from Singer's views, but the talk took place without disruption or cancellation.

Nonetheless, in apparent response to the Singer invitation, the president of St. Olaf College suddenly removed Santurri from his position as director of the Institute. Santurri had just recently been reappointed as director, and was in the middle of a two-year term in the position. His appointment as director included salary support and a teaching reduction.

The president of St. Olaf College has sent a very clear message to its faculty that there are limits on free inquiry on that college's campus and that the College will not tolerate speakers whose ideas are offensive to influential campus stakeholders. Like other college presidents, the president at St. Olaf has recognized that he can avoid disinvitation controversies if he simply prevents invitations from being sent to heterodox speakers in the first place. Professors who do not toe the party line will not be allowed to be in a position to invite speakers to campus. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

"Must love genomics. (If you do not already love genomics, are you willing to love genomics?)"

The National Human Genome Research Institute is looking for a science writer. Among the qualifications required of  applicants: "Must love, or be willing to love, all aspects of genomics: its biology, its clinical relevance, its ethical and social impacts and its history. (Worth repeating!)"

 HT @LeighGTurner

Friday, April 22, 2022