Research Ethics Roundup: Fast-tracking obesity treatments, stem cell research, and more!

Autumn may be here, but the leaves are not the only things turning heads this week. Peruse the latest installment of the Research Ethics Roundup for some colorful articles, including a fresh perspective on the purported rise of fraud in research, an essay on the role of institutional review boards (IRBs) in social science, and much more.

Stem cell opponents appeal to U.S. Supreme Court: This week, two scientists seeking to block Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court to appeal the August ruling by a Federal appeals court against their claim. The decision in this case may have a significant impact on the funding available for future research involving stem cells.

FDA considers faster approval process for obesity drugs: According to Bloomberg, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it is will consider allowing the use of an accelerated clinical trial and approval process for certain drugs and treatments “deemed to offer societal benefit despite their risks.” Details are still unclear, though it is expected that the approval pathway might be used for antibiotics and weight-loss treatments.

Ethics, interdisciplinarity, and the institutional review board: This fascinating post on Southern Fried Science examines the role of the IRB, not just in medical research, but within the context of social science as a whole. Through the use of two hypothetical case studies, the author illuminates how the current IRB system can be both a burden and a benefit to non-medical scholars.

Scientific fraud: a sign of the times?: Has dishonesty become endemic in the world of research?  The author of this piece argues that recent press coverage of scientific misconduct may have exaggerated the pervasiveness of fraud in science. The article suggests that violations of integrity occur very rarely, and should not serve as the barometer for the state of science as a whole.

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