Research Ethics Roundup: NIH returns to India, crowd-funding HIV research, and more!

As winter soldiers on and you recover from the post-Olympic slump, spend some time catching up with what has been happening in the research ethics world:

NIH Makes Wary Return to India: Last year, India’s Supreme Court enacted a new set of stringent clinical trials regulations in response to allegations of unethical practices and deaths. As a result, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) halted more than 35 trials because the new laws were vague and open to interpretation. Recently, however, thanks to promises that the new rules will be eased, several investigators funded by the NIH have resumed their studies.

Crowd-Funded HIV Vaccine Project Sparks Debate: Can crowd-funding be a source of funding for scientific research? Some of the issues raised by this new approach are demonstrated in the story of Reid Rubsamen, who is using crowd-funding to raise money to develop an HIV vaccine. In this article from Nature, journalist Erika Check Hayden explores this unorthodox method of fundraising.

An Unusual Partnership to Tackle Stubborn Diseases: NIH is partnering with 10 large drug companies and seven nonprofit organizations in a five-year, 230 million dollar effort to “speed up development of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.” Participants in the collaboration will “share data in regular conference calls and meetings, working together to determine which findings are likely to lead to effective treatments. They will make their findings and data publicly available.”

EU May Punish Italy for Stalemate on Animal Research: All 27 EU members were required to transpose EU Directive 2010/63, which requires alternatives to be used instead of animals in scientific research when available, into national legislation, by November 10, 2012. Italy is among seven countries that have not yet incorporated the directive, and is at risk of facing a fine of more than 4.5 million euros per month.


Ancient Genome Stirs Ethical Debate: The remains of a young Clovis boy, one of the earliest populations in the Americas, who was ceremoniously buried about 12,600 years ago, were discovered in Montana. The boy’s DNA was sequenced and provides evidence that links the boy genetically to present-day Native Americans. As a result, researchers have reached out to contemporary Native American tribes to ensure that concerns from the indigenous groups are understood and addressed.