Research Ethics Roundup: Research Fraud Prevention Efforts, NIH’s Nonhuman Primate Research Workshop; 20 Years, 10,000 New Yorkers, Lots of Data; and Public Perception on Biospecimen Donations

This week’s Research Ethics Roundup examines the best ways to stop research fraud, the National Institutes of Health’s workshop reviewing the ethics of nonhuman primate research, a large-scale data collection effort in New York, and an interview with the CEO of a biospecimen collection company.

Stop Ignoring Misconduct: In a Nature comment piece, Donald S. Kornfeld and Sandra L. Titus argue that irreproducibility of research results is the result of flawed research practices and fraud, and go on to note that “current initiatives to improve science dismiss the second factor.” To resolve the problem, they recommend several different approaches: new mentorship policies, stronger whistle-blower protections, and better treatment of support staff.

Three chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) playing with twig, two sitting on stone

Workshop on Ethics of Monkey Research Earns Cheers and Boos: In this Science article, reporter David Grimm writes about a recent NIH event on nonhuman primate research, held in response to a Congressional request that NIH reviews its ethical policies and processes in using nonhuman primates in research. Participants discussed ways to avoid duplication of prior research, sharing negative results, and the benefits of using natural environments for lab primates.

This Audacious Study Will Track 10,000 New Yorkers’ Every Move for 20 Years: Brian Resnick of Vox reports on the Kavli HUMAN Project, which aims to “create an atlas of the human experience—to find out how biology, psychology, and the environment all interact to shape our lives.” The multi-million dollar project will collect a range of information from sources such as medical records, genome data, credit card records, GPS data, and social interactions. The information will then be analyzed for patterns to answer questions such as the impact of genetics on financial health.

DNA models, (Close-up)

Donating Biospecimens: Most Americans Say Yes:
In this Bioscience Technology article, Bevin Fletcher spoke with Chris Ianelli, CEO of iSpecimen, about how the public views donating biospecimens for research purposes. An survey commissioned by iSpecimen found that participants were “philanthropic, that they want their samples not to be thrown away after clinical testing, but channeled into a research program…. And they are happy to do that without any compensation, just based on altruism and understanding that there is more good to be gained from that sample since it’s already collected.”