Forum Attendees Debate the Ethics of Biomedical Research

Millennial forum on bioethics

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Mary Woodard Lasker Charitable Trust sponsored an invitational forum on ethical challenges in biomedical research and practice May 14–16, 2003, in Washington and published a report on the forum.

The project focused on the "gray zone" where clinical care (which is governed by professional and malpractice standards) and research (which is formally regulated) overlap and blur distinctions between research and practice.

Key Conclusions

As reported in Report on the Lasker Forum on Ethical Challenges in Biomedical Research & Practice:

  • Forum participants found it difficult to deliver guidance about specific situations or to define the circumstances where additional oversight is warranted due to the complexity of the issues and the brevity of the meeting.
  • More needs to be done to establish a wider understanding of the problems posed by innovation and of the obligations that physicians and their institutions have with regard to innovative practice.
  • Modest additions to the curricula of medical schools on research design and analysis of evidence may provide great gains. At the least, these additions would help practitioners understand when a novel intervention was effective.
  • Important areas for future discussion are translational research (research that brings basic science from the laboratory to the bedside) and the impact of information and communication problems on research (e.g., non-publication of negative results and conflicts between the need for information to serve public health needs and privacy protection requirements).

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with a grant of $23,297 between January and December 2003.

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