Thursday, December 19, 2013

University of Minnesota bioethics alumni say Kaler should not be allowed to whitewash the Markingson case

In an editorial published in today's Star Tribune on behalf of a group of thirteen University of Minnesota alumni working in bioethics at other institutions, University of Tulsa law professor Matt Lamkin writes:
The administration’s refusal to commission an independent investigation of the Markingson case has tainted the university for far too long. That began to change recently when the Faculty Senate responded to a letter signed by more than 175 scholars asking for an external, independent investigation into the Markingson case. By an overwhelming margin, the Faculty Senate voted to approve a “Resolution on the Matter of the Markingson case” and endorse an inquiry into clinical research practices at the university.

Yet University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler appears intent on continuing the university’s efforts to avoid scrutiny. In a recent interview with the Minnesota Daily, Kaler said that the inquiry will not look at Markingson’s death at all, but rather will focus solely on “what we are doing now and what we’re going to do moving forward.”

Such a limited inquiry would defeat the purposes of the Senate’s action. Although the resolution does call for an inquiry into the university’s current practices, the Senate left no doubt that the aims of that investigation included resolving “questions [that] continue to be raised about the policies and procedures followed in the Markingson case” and addressing the harm to the university’s reputation “in consequence of this tragic case and its aftermath.”

Any inquiry that merely considers the university’s forms and policies without examining the experiences of actual research subjects would only further erode confidence in the institution and compound the harm to its reputation.

The rest of the editorial can be found here.

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