Good science is based on sound research design and ethical basis, competent researchers and high quality, transparent and reproducible data. With the significant and swiftly occurring advances being made in technology, science and medicine, good science, coupled with sound research ethics, is critical to research participants and ultimately, the public.

While many in the research community strive for sound, transparent science, weaknesses remain in today’s system of scientific research and education. A lack of support for research ethics education and training in academe contributes to the fragmented nature of today’s research enterprise. For example, members of the pharmaceutical industry contend that nearly 70% of research studies are not reproducible. The issue of flawed research is particularly troubling in medicine where there is potential for harm to research participants as well as to patients and the public.

Researchers, research staff, IRB members, and treating physicians are likely to find themselves unprepared for the ethical issues that result from rapid, technological advances. For example, the human genome project has raised many ethical issues. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Epilogue of The Gene: An Intimate History demonstrates that as physicians begin to widely incorporate new technologies, complex ethical questions increase.

More can be done to assist researchers, IRB members and treating physicians in understanding how to handle ethical issues when they develop. Medical school ethics education for young treating physicians can be an especially effective way to close the gap. Most importantly, research ethics education should emphasize strategic thinking that is flexible enough to encompass new breakthroughs.

WCGF constantly seeks to build and improve the infrastructure for clinical research through research ethics education because we believe it is critical to the health of the public.

Learn more about our work at:

Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The Gene: An Intimate History. London: Vintage, 2017. Print.