Clinical Research Ethics Question of the Month: January 2019

In collaboration with First Clinical Research, each month we share a new question and accompanying anonymous survey, designed to encourage critical thinking about questions in clinical research and highlight discussion generated by the prior month’s question.

This month’s scenario:

You are the chairperson of a central IRB. You have learned that one of the sites in a study you oversee is achieving subject recruiting and retention rates far superior to that of other sites. An investigation has found nothing unethical or unusual about the site’s activities — the subjects just find the investigator’s personality irresistible.

How much does this situation concern you? How worried are you that the investigator is exerting undue influence? To answer these questions and others, take the survey here.

The last question posed readers with a hypothetical situation involving research on “betas,” entities created using artificial intelligence with human-like intelligence and emotions. The survey respondents were split in their opinions of research on the betas; 54% would put limitations on the experiments and 46% would not. However, the responses were much more unified on questions concerning betas containing cells from humans, with 98% of respondents voting to increase limitations on the experiments in that case. The full report contains more analysis of the survey results and a discussion of what constitutes human subjects research. It is available here.

The Question of the Month also appears on the IRB Forum. The IRB Forum is a robust community of IRB professionals engaged in an ongoing discussion of the latest issues and questions that arise for human subjects protections professionals. An account is free, and gives you access to an invaluable resource—the insight of your peers.

PRIM&R thanks Norm Goldfarb of First Clinical Research for allowing us to share this feature with our community!