Research Ethics Roundup: Preparing for pandemics, Congressional-level grant review, and much more!

Spring is in full swing! Take advantage of the mild weather and enjoy the great outdoors while reading the full text of this week’s Research Ethics Roundup selections.


#NIHSequesterImpact: Last week, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, asked Twitter followers to share how the federal sequester has affected their biomedical research. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology collected responses on their Storify page.

Privacy Protections: The Genome Hacker: Nature profiles Yaniv Erlich, creator of lobSTR, a software program that analyzes anonymized genomic data in public databases, allowing users to re-identify study participants. Erlich’s study reveals the tensions between balancing access to valuable research information and ensuring patient confidentiality, and predicts possible ways in which study data may be used in the future.

To Fight Pandemics, Reward Research: In light of the latest avian influenza outbreak in China, economics professor Tyler Cowen considers how the United States should best equip itself to prepare for a pandemic. Not only should innovators be encouraged to engage in research, but the government needs a way to cheaply and widely distribute drugs and vaccines, he argues.

Solving an Alligator Mystery May Help Humans Regrow Lost Teeth: Researchers have been studying the tooth regeneration abilities of American alligators, whose teeth are replaced up to fifty times during their lifespan, in hopes of replicating this phenomenon with humans via stem cell technology.

Leave Judging Science in the Hands of Scientists: Ann Bonham, chief scientific officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, posted an essay about the importance of peer-reviewed research in response to the proposed High Quality Research Act. The Act would require additional Congressional review of all grants extended by the National Science Foundation and NASA.