Research Ethics Roundup: Artificial Organs, the Sharing of Health Data for Research Purposes, and More

From new approaches to genetic research to changing conceptions of privacy, this week’s Research Ethics Roundup explores how advances in technology are changing the course of research.

Most Americans Would Share Health Data for Research: A recent NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll saw a decline in the percentage of Americans willing to share their health information anonymously for research purposes. Fifty-three percent of respondents indicated that they were comfortable sharing anonymized health information, a 15 percent decline from August 2014.

Audit Questions US Oversight of Lab Animal Welfare: In December, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report following an audit of the agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. In this piece for Science, David Grimm reports on OIG’s key findings and considers their implications.


Every Patient a Subject: When Personalized Medicine, Genomic Research, and Privacy Collide: Jennifer J. Kulynych and Hank Greely consider how “advances in data science and information technology are eroding old assumptions—and undermining researchers’ promises—about the anonymity of DNA specimens and genetic data” in this piece for Slate.

Researchers Create Artificial Organs That Fit In Your Hand: Richard Harris reports on efforts to create organs-on-a-chip, which are designed to mimic the function of healthy human organs and may contribute to increased efficiency in the drug development process.

In a New Approach to Fighting Disease, Helpful Genetic Mutations Are Sought: In a new approach to genetics research, investigators are seeking out protective gene mutations, those that seemingly protect individuals from certain diseases. Researchers hope that by identifying protective gene mutations they may be able to “mimic them and protect everyone.”